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Weaned off Lexapro


violahen
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Hi:

I had posted a topic a few weeks ago about going off lexapro. I've been on it for about two years...not for depression per se, but to help with POTS symptoms. I never really felt that it helped my symptoms....only made me care less...I was much more "blotto" and had really bad brain fog....still do. I also gained about 15 lbs on it which I am not happy about.

In any case, with doc's permission, I have weaned myself off of it. The withdrawal is REALLY bad...now I know how powerful this drug is! At first I thought maybe I was going through a bad POTS period...or possibly about to have a big crash, but I did some research online about lexapro withdrawal and BINGO! That's me!....very dizzy, nauseated, joint pain...especially in my legs, very anxious, a general feeling of being disoriented, my body feels like it's floating but my head feels very heavy, etc, etc. I've never had panic attack issues before, but suddenly I know what others who experience them must feel. I haven't had one, but I feel on the verge all the time. It is horrible! On top of my already bad POTS symptoms, this is too much! I can barely function! Actually, I can't function.

Just writing this is a huge challenge.

My question is, has anyone had experience with withdrawal from SSRI's? How long can I expect this misery to last?

Any words of wisdom or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all of you! This forum has been a life-saver for me. My support-system is very small, and sometimes non-existent. My husband has a tough time dealing with my illness...denial is his motto generally. He is a wonderful guy, but it is extremely difficult for him to face my health struggles. Dr. Grubb has kicked him in the butt more than a couple of times about this very issue! But all of you have truly lifted me up!! I KNOW you all understand. A million thanks.

Kristen

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I've tried to wean off it too--but have not yet been successful in doing so. The only thing that has helped me was to slowly reduce my dosage over a period of weeks. That said, when my dose got down too low, my guts completely stopped working. Apparently, I was benefitting from the drugs even if I didn't "feel" like it helped--for now I'm staying on my low dose.

Nina

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Guest tearose

Hi V, I have no experience with ssri's but wanted you to know I'm thinking of you as you take this big step in trying to remove the med from your body. I have only had to try coming off coffee once in awhile and that made me ill, I can't imagine the havoc you must be going through.

I just want to encourage you to try extremely hard to come off it so you can look back and know that you did you absolute personal best!!! This way, if you choose to go back on it, you will be able to say wholeheartedly that you gave it a shot! Do you see what I mean? Give it your best and then proudly and confidently, make your decision.

Some people seem to go on and off of these drugs as their bodies change and symptoms change over time.

I hoping you know that we all care and respect you for trying to do what is best for you! Even though those you love around you don't quite understand...we DO and hope you lean on us as you go through these next steps.

with support, respect and a big hug, tearose

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I have been on them in the past, and was able to wean pretty easily. I think some things are just much harder for some than others. I know my valium would be another story. Just wean off really slowly if you are still doing it. I know it is really miserable. My hubby was sick recently and didn't want to take his ritilin, he has narcolepsy, and I told him he would have withdrawals, but he wouldn't listen. Sure enough he was up all one night prowling the house and feeling really weird. Needless to say, he started them again the next day. I don't think the withdrawals as a rule last that long even though it feels like forever, but ssri's aren't a long life drug that I'm aware of, but I may be wrong. I had to suddenly be taken off a tca, which is a different form of anti depressent and I felt like crap for about a week, then got better. sorry you are going through this. :P morgan

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Hi, Violahen. Sorry you're having so much trouble withdrawing from Lexapro. Were you on a particularly high dose? That can certainly complicate the taper.

I, myself, was on a low dose of Lexapro (5 mg) last year and successfully weaned down with little impact. That said, I do recall feeling a little dizzy and spacey for a couple of days, but I just went to 2.5 mg for a week, then 2.5 mg every other day, then off.

As with starting meds (I always take crumbs for a week or two before bumping up!), I think if you take an ultra conservative taper schedule (even more conservative that what your doc advises), you can mitigate some of the worst of the symptoms. Then again, as well all know, everyone is different.

I hope things smooth out for you soon!

Best,

RG

ps. I actually just restarted the Lexapro last week due to increased anxiety. I plan to get up to 5 mg again (I'm still only at 2.5 mg - like I said, a crumb!) and see how I feel on that. Fortunately, the only real side effects I experienced last time were night sweats (mentioned in my earlier post) and vivid dreams (which were actually kind of entertaining!)

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I am really scared of SSRIs as I took one just 3 days after on sudden onset and had the worst reaction of my life to them. My doc told me to take Zoloft cuz she tought I this whole thing was caused by anxiety (which I knew it wasent but thought the SSRI would help me calm down about my rapid heart rate a bit). She told me to start on 75mg which I learned was wayyyyyy to much to start on. That night about an hour after taking them I had the sweats..diarreha...sleepiness...and muscle cramps. It was the worst feeling. Like a major epsiode of the flu or something. I always wondered if this made my problems worse off. Is that possible? To get worse symptoms cuz of too much zoloft?

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Porque:

I had a similar reaction when I was started on a dose of 20 mg of Prozac. I was on it just four days when I developed the worst anxiety I've ever experienced - it was like one continuous panic attack. The panic was accompanied by a splitting headache, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since one of my rare binge drinking nights as an undergrad in college! It was horrendous and I was terrified to try an SSRI again for some time.

Some people simply cannot tolerate SSRIs - but for many of us, it is just a matter of starting on a very low dose and SLOWLY building up. I honestly don't know why more docs don't advise their patients of this. For those of us with ANS issues (who seem to be ultra-sensative to meds), starting on a TINY dose and workng up is even more important. Most pills can be safely split - just check with your doc before you start tinkering. In my case, I did fine on Prozac (yes, believe it or not, I eventually got the courage to try it again!), but only after starting with 2.5 mg, going up to 5 mg, and finally up to 10 mg. Never did get back up to that 20 mg dose!

Good luck to you if you try again!

RG

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I weaned off Lexapro successfully, although I did have withdrawal as well. But I wanted that drug out of my system, because I felt like a complete robot. I just wanted to echo the idea of tapering slowly, and hopefully right now is not a time of great stress for you. Best to taper when you have some distractions in your life. I had headaches, jittery feelings, dizziness/vertigo, you name it. Just be prepared for odd stuff and know it's the drugs coming out of your body.

Best of luck,

Amy

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To date, my experience has been similar to Nina's. I tried a couple of times to wean off my low-dose SSRI. After several weeks, my POTS symptoms start to become difficult/more annoying (for me, more tachycardia, odd sensations in my head and body, dizziness). Hopefully, eventually I can wean off, but for now it does seem to be helping to keep my autonomic system on an even keel. And fortunately for me, this low dose doesn't cause any side-effects with mood, weight or any other noticeable effects.

Take care,

Katherine

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  • 13 years later...
On 1/3/2005 at 9:27 AM, MightyMouse said:

I've tried to wean off it too--but have not yet been successful in doing so. The only thing that has helped me was to slowly reduce my dosage over a period of weeks. That said, when my dose got down too low, my guts completely stopped working. Apparently, I was benefitting from the drugs even if I didn't "feel" like it helped--for now I'm staying on my low dose.

Nina

How low a dose are you on? 

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I've posted elsewhere on this forum that I too had an awful experience withdrawing from Lexapro. Including psychomotor retardation, difficulty reading and writing, depersonalization (feeling like nothing is real) and hallucinations. It took a year to return to baseline.

I don't understand why the doctors are not more willing to prescribe the MAO-Is. I took the MAO-I Selegline (brand: EMSAM) for awhile while recovering from Lexapro. Selegeline was easier to wean off of. As recently as this summer I have had good results taking rhodiola rosea. It is an herb used to treat mountain sickness and fatigue. It is an MAO inhibitor. After about two weeks, it starts to loose effectiveness, so I am cycling 2 weeks on 2 weeks off.

 

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Odd sensations in the head!

Yes! I have taken some SNRIs and other weird anti-depressants (strattera, wellbutrin), they ALL give me weird sensations in the head while adjusting on or else withdrawing, except for the MAO-I Selegeline. That said, I now recall that I had anxiety and insomnia with the MAO-I selegeline.

I swear to Socrates that the psychotropic drug companies must be suppressing adverse event reporting and concealing evidence of side-effects, because to this day doctors will pressure me to take anti-depressants on the grounds that they are so safe. Who are they kidding?

That said, take heart that I definitely got better. Also one thing worth saying: although my experience of withdrawing involved the temporary loss of abilities, I have to say that it was not an unpleasant experience. The hallucinations were mild, and not upsetting, the depersonalization was a relief (I felt that I did not exist, and ergo had nothing to worry about), and I remember that colors were brighter and it was easy to meditate (because I had no thoughts in my head). It was a loss, because I wanted to read and write and work, and was sort of worthless, but it wasn't intrinsically uncomfortable.

The psychtropic drug companies should be forced to buy people withdrawing from SSRIs a years vacation time. The jerks would have to think twice about claiming their meds are safe when they are not!

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I am sorry you had such a bad time with Lexapro.  I only want to point out that you said in a previous post that you just stopped it - that is probably why you had these terrible symptoms. I do very good on Lexapro and one time had to wean off to try a SNRI instead. I had no problem weaning slowly over several weeks but did not tolerate the SNRI, so I started back on Lexapro. --- We all react differently to drugs so what one tolerates another does not. I just want to add my 2 cents so other members don't get unnessesarily afraid of SSRI's. 

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>I am sorry you had such a bad time with Lexapro.  I only want to point out that you said in a previous post that you just stopped it - that is probably why you had these terrible symptoms. I do very good on Lexapro and one time had to wean off to try a SNRI instead. I had no problem weaning slowly over several weeks but did not tolerate the SNRI, so I started back on Lexapro. --- We all react differently to drugs so what one tolerates another does not. I just want to add my 2 cents so other members don't get unnessesarily afraid of SSRI's. 

Of course! People may have a wide variety of experiences. But, I stopped it abruptly because I did not feel well on it. I'm glad it's working for you!

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