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Cipralex/Lexapro withdrawal? is something wrong?

Hi, I recently just stopped taking Cipralex (5mg) after 1 year. However, the first couple weeks I had brain zaps, which I expected and had coming off Paxil previously.

Once the Brain Zaps stopped, I have suddenly become very anxious for no reason, I can see great improvements in social situation and none of my past fears seems to be there, but for some reason just sitting in my house, I get that anxious feeling in my chest, tips of fingers, sometimes feet, my hands even sweat a little. I have no palpitations or shakiness, but can not figure out this anxiety attack feeling, I do not recall ever feeling like this constantly before taking the medication.

I stopped taking the cipralex by taking 2.5 mg for three days then quit cold turkey, approximately 3 weeks ago, maybe 4.

Being so long after quitting the med, can these be withdrawal problems, or am I suffering an anxiety feeling I will continue to feel, this feeling is last nearly all day for the past 4-5 days.

Sorry for such a long write up, and thank you in advance for any insight you may have.
13 Responses
370181 tn?1428180348
I'm not going to sugar coat my response considering your age, your obvious intelligence and past experience with antidepressants.

You have broken THE number one rule for anyone taking psychotropic meds! You NEVER take it upon yourself to cold turkey these drugs.
I believe you are now finding out why.

Quoted from the latest PDR, (Physcians Desk Reference) it states:

"Avoid suddenly stopping this medicine. Sudden withdrawal may result in headache, nausea, pins and needles, dizziness and anxiety. When it is time to stop taking this medicine it should be discontinued gradually, following the instructions given by your doctor."

I urge you to see your prescriber as soon as possible and get some help.
I wish you the best.

Avatar universal
Thanks for the response, for some reason my Dr. told me because my dosage was a very low dose I could just stop, obviously this is not the case at all.

Apparently, the Cipralex guide at the Dr.'s office claimed to have minimal withdrawal effects. After doing some research this is clearly not the case and maybe some form of incorrect marketing.

Do you happen to know how long these side-effects tend to last, it just seems weird that it kicked in after the brain zaps, that the anxiety and weird stomach ill like sensations began. I assumed after 3 weeks this stuff should be completely gone.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to respond to my question.
370181 tn?1428180348
As you've discovered, your doctor is wrong. I have ALWAYS had a problem with GPs prescribing psychotropic medications. They do their rotation in the psych unit and that's pretty much the end of their training in psychological issues. What little knowledge they have of the new and very powerful psych drugs comes from their 15 minute meeting with the drug rep. Who is, naturally, working for some big pharmaceutical company and is spewing out the script he memorized on the plane ride along with the list of alternative kick-backs the doctor will receive if he/she prescribes THEIR meds instead of Brand X. We walk in and tell the doctor were anxious and a bit depressed. If we're lucky, our doctor will actually ask us a few questions about our symptoms. They will then hop off their little doctor stool and go rummage through the drug locker for all those free samples the rep gave them last week for anxious and depressed people. They stuff a party favor bag full of this crap and we're out the door. (The doctor is probably out the door for his free trip to Hawaii)

Sorry. I DO tend to go on rants when it comes to doctors giving us medicine they really have no business handing out.  

I really got a good giggle when you wrote............" Apparently, the Cipralex guide at the Dr.'s office claimed to have minimal withdrawal effects. After doing some research this is clearly not the case and maybe some form of incorrect marketing."

"incorrect marketing?" You really ARE too kind. "Incompetant medical practice" would be far more accurate.

OK, I'm off my soap box now.  (Or not)

Your doctor was also a tad ignorant telling you to cold turkey "because your dose was very low." Yes, you may have been on the lowest dose available, but you were on it for an entire year. The LENGTH of treatment time, irregardless of the dose, is a HUGE factor that must be taken into consideration when contemplating a discontinuance of any medication.

I can't give you any sort of timeline for your symptoms to abate. We are all different in how we react to meds whether it's getting on them or coming off them.
What I can tell you is the half-life of escitalopram is upwards of 35 hours. I don't want to insult your intelligence and assume you don't understand what "half-life" means, it's just that most people don't even know it exists. So, quickly then, the half-life of a drug is basically the equation you'd use to figure out when the drug will be completely out of your system. If the half-life is 35 hours, that means every 35 hours, your body will rid itself of 1/2 the dose you've been taking. In your case, 35 hours after your last 5mg dose, you will still have 2.5mg in your body. 35 hours later, you will have rid yourself of 1/2 of the 2.5mg and so on until there is none left in your body. The half-life equation is not a mathematical absolute, so perhaps your body just didn't (or isn't) excreting the drug at this given rate.

Even if all the drug is out of your system, it is not uncommon for some symptoms to resurface..........the same symptoms we began taking the drug for in the first place and quite often they can be worse the second time around. These drugs work on receptors in our brains, actually change them, When we stop the drug, those recptors must begin doing the job on their own again and it can take some time for them to figure that out. Meanwhile, it can play havoc with the healing process. This is one reason you need to taper very slowly off these meds. And the slower the better. It gives our brains time to begin adjusting, to wake up naturally as opposed to being jarred awake by a sudden withdrawal.

I would suggest making an appointment with a Psychiatric Medication Manager and, well, sort of dumping this mess in their lap. It's what they're really, really good at.........fixing the messes GPs get us into.

I'd sure as hell avoid your original doctor unless your dog needs stitches.
Most of us have been where you are. We understand what you're going through and trust us, you have our sympathy but also our reassurance that once you get this starightened out and taper correctly, you'll be just fine.

Post any time you need to talk. Somebody always has the coffee on around the clubhouse.
Avatar universal
Ok, so I read here we all trying to stop, taking cipralex or lexamil...
I was on 5 for a week than went to, 10 month after that I went to 20 orders by the docter, so after that I had all the simptoms of being on the drug, till one day suddenly I found my left shoulfer to be num, now me working with people and being a ex pharmacist assistant I relized thats not normal, I left it a day passed that I could not set foot out of bed for I was having blue hands, and lips, so I got warryed I went to the ER thy emedetly saw I had a light aginapectoris, me being 24 having that just freeked me out, I got treated as I had a heat attack, after a week I felt ok went on doing my thing at work, I got the same issue again so I went to the doc she did a ecg found my hert poundin at 120 bpm which normally should be 75 bpm after that I got prescribed pur bloka 10 mg tds I felt ok for a month, than the headachs started so bad I started skipping work just to keep it at bay, I even started doing ubnormal things such as eat exsesivly even fighted with my staff, I became a animal, one even commented so I went to the doc she told me I should take pur bloca qid so I did and I started losing it, more till my boss warend me this is my last ofence if it happens again I fired, so I tride to keep my pose,a week passed and I read something about some funny withdrawed symptoms of paxil so I googled cipralex, I was shocked of what I found, not only did it do that it increased some aspects I I even
Avatar universal
So I figured this is not the pur blocka, but the cipralex, I felt what the hell do I than need this tablets for if I only get added a disatvantage.. So I just disided to   stop at once and I knowing what the evects are know the withdrawal symptoms, some even would shout me for just stopping the 20 mg like that, I  sould add that " had a huge nervis brake down 3 year back and it destroyed my life as a young adult trying to make his way throu without seport of anny family, just me myself and I" so I went throw hevey headackes, nausia diearea, the shocking of the brain, even the feeling of my ears being blocked, I havent had mush anxitey even other symptoms but now being at week 3 tommorrow I could say I was figting the headack with napacot, nausia with clopamon and diearea with limotil, but today I had some thing happend that I did not expect, I became verry afrad of sudden noises not afraid but lets say jumpy when ever I here a clan or a boom, I even jumed out of my skin when I heard someone drop a glas and that was about 5 feet away, so I would say thats something thy havent added on tge paket insert, even the fact that my frenzy wiht my hands whasing every time started again and me cheking that I  have a cleen pees of cutlery, or croccery, but I should say I even stoped eating as much as I was when I was on the cipralex, amaizing as it is my heart rait droped to the point of 79 to 90 bpm, which is litrally amazing for with the pur blocka I use to mesure 80 to 95 bpm, so to me thats a achive ment
Avatar universal
I also srarted paying attention to smalll detail afain, reacting faster tgan I have even not being tierd so much and sleeping so much I now started joging in the mornings, and evenings and that has even increeced my moods from being fown in the gutters to the point that I feel proud of being who I am not having a care in the world not.minding if someone squse in the line of if I get shouted at if the medical aid is not paying for some stugh, I sohould say you that stop taking this should feel just as grait as I do, for I never can remember when last I felt this way, even when I was small people use to tease me for.i cant spell dew to my dyslexia, I even laghf at ignorant an stuped people lol.. Do guys I recomend you to come off it for you would not feel like.tge zomby.you use to feel like while taking the medication, but for safty sake of yourself and others around you talk to your GP before qutiting, you can try to replace it with natrual products, only know of 5 Htp of solal that is in africa but I belive you guys shoyld get it there as well, just one thing never tride it so I can not comment on it... But let me TELL U IN ADVANCE DONT DO WHAT I DID consult your Gp try telling him or her you cant drink it anny more its killing tbe person your sapose to be, also I did tbis all on my own rick for all that happent was my doing and only myne so have faith and do it you might coe back tommorrow and say dam this guy was right, so contact me on karelesterhuizen@hotmail. Com.if you wannd bless me or curce me....

Peace you all...
Avatar universal
I have a question I stopped ciplarex suddenly as well. Stupid me. And now I am dizzy 24/7 and having pins and needle feeling in my right leg. I know I should be back on them I was wondering if anyone knows if I can just restart the pills or go to my so called dr
Avatar universal
If you are attempting to go off any drug and need help doing so, call "Point of Return" in California (just google it...free consultation). They help people get off prescription drugs slowly and safely. My husband tapered off Lorazepam, which took five months and Cipralex took just over 2 months. Every week you reduce by .5. It's a slow process but better than facing the horrendous side effects of quitting cold turkey. Lorazepam is one of the hardest drugs to get off of, and although it was a long process it was quite painless. They help people all over the world...consultations done over the phone or by email. All the best!
Avatar universal
I have been searching these blogs for even a general answer to the question: HOW LONG DO THE THE AWFUL SYMPTOMS OF LEXAPRO WITHDRAWAL LAST?   Everybody talks about it, asks that question, but no one with knowledge or experience answers it.   It would be nice if the company that made it could post a study, or doctors who prescribe it regularly to more than one person could share their experience.  The postings mostly are not recent so I am taking this as a sign of hope; they don't go back on after they return to health.   :O)  it's almost a month now.
Avatar universal
I saw you posted this recently - I'm looking for the exact information! How's it going with your withdrawl?
I'm in my 3rd week - have gone frim10mg daily to 5mg every other day. Today I feel awful!! Like I have the flu and massive headaches.
Avatar universal
Dear all cipralex/ lexapro withdraler I am writing from Sweden, I am so glad that I have found this forum. We don't have this much information about ssri withdral in my country. I have been taking 5 mg cipralex for 3 years but all of a sudden it didn't work any longer. My doctor wanted me to increase to 10mg and so I did for 4 weeks. Horrible time with vomiting every day and constant diareea and dizziness. My doctor then told me to go back to 5 mg and so I did for about 3 weeks. I  was still throwing up and had diareea and crazy heart rate. Then he wanted me to half so 2,5mg and so I have for 3 weeks today. It's been just horrible. What can I say about the symptoms. I still have big time nausea from the moment I wake up to until afternoon, stomach problems like gastritis, dizziness, not craving any food, ringing in ears, feeling unhappy, panic attacks, problem sleeping, feeling scared, feeling of being in a dream. Just a few horrible symptoms. I read that this can last for 1 to 8 weeks!:0 I would like to know how you feel today the people that stopped taking this drug back in 2012? Kind regards
Avatar universal
I'm scared - been on cipralex for around 4 weeks at 5 mg a day. I want to taper off...how should I do so? Will I experience the brain zaps??????

I really don't want to be on these pills!!!!!
Avatar universal
Hi, I just stumbled upon my own post from a while ago, I apologize if it seems I have not responded to anyones question. I have not visited this site for a couple years as it usually fuels my anxiety. As I often have fears of health related issues.

However, to respond to how things have been since 2012 when I first quit this drug, I was off it for over a year. I went back on it once for 6 months, and had the same withdrawal symptoms as I did the first time, as I did not have the patience to taper properly and knew what to expect. Once again I am considering returning to this drug, however my mind is not made up.

As far as the withdrawal went and how long it lasted, I would say it was the same both times. The odd brain zaps/odd sensation in my head for a quick second if I remember correctly on both occasions last from 3-4 weeks. The worst part hands down on both occasions was the massive amount of anxiety that I was overcome with when I quit taking these drugs, sometimes coming close to having panic attacks, and others often feeling very sad for no reason at all.

When I quit in 2012 after approximately 6-8 weeks, my mood levelled out again and for 6 months, I would say things were fine. After that my anxiety returned to previous levels. A year after that I went back on 5 mg. 6 months into that round I suspected some odd side effects from these pills (joint/excess back pain, etc.), so I quit again, this time the the same things happened, odd head sensations, and unexplained emotional reactions, I often went to the doctor for an unexplained amount of anxiety, once again this lasted for the better part of 2 months.To be clear the level of anxiety and sadness that I got both times withdrawing from these pills is way beyond what I normally experience,so if you feel this way you are not alone.

I do not know how each person will react, or what to say that will help, I can only explain what happened to myself on 5 mg. I had a friend who quit 20 mg due to financially issues cold turkey and their emotional state fluctuated rapidly with unexplained crying episodes as well. I cannot comment on what it is like to taper off properly as I have never done it, and unfortunately would never be able to wait that long to do so. When I quit Paxil cold turkey I was on 20 or 40 mg at the time I cannot remember I went back and forth and it was in 2008. However, I had one night of extra energy and an electric feeling and that was it, it was over, however I hear Paxil is suppose to be worse to come off and I was on a much higher dose equivalent on that. So it simply shows everyone is different. Please do not do what I did and quit could turkey. Please for your sake taper off.

To anyone who is reading this, I truly hope you are doing well, and understand things will get better over time and you can do this.

To conclude this, (sorry for posting such a long response) at this point in time certain triggers have lead my odd to turn to anxiety to lack of motivation. It seems as if this may be a cyclical pattern for me. I am once again considering returning to an ssri. As for me they do make a world of a difference, I hate some of the side effects, and being on a pill for life scares me more half to death, due to the unknown of long term use.

I hope that helps somehow. I apologize in advance if there are more questions and I fail to respond in a timely matter.

So to sum it up after 8-10 weeks everything was usually cleared up for me, whoever is reading this I once again would like to repeat, I hope you are doing well, you are not alone, and all the best in recovering.

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Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1428180348
Arlington, WA
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