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Avatar universal

Weaning off Cipralex (Lexapro)

Well it's been almost a year since I started Cipralex (lexapro) ended up at 15 mgs a day... so a pretty low dose. Well I have doctor's blessing now to begin the wean off process - SLOWLY. So today i took my first dose of 12.5mg and i will stay at this for about 10-14 days and then drop again to 10 mgs for another 10-14 days then stay at that for 10-14 days and then go down to 7.5, then 5 and then stop. So the entire process will take close to 3 months but I am in no rush and would rather minimize any side effects from the ramping down process.

I will chronicle my progress (like I did on this site when I first went on the drug and was ramping up last year) for anyone who is interested or perhaps thinking about doing the same thing.
30 Responses
480448 tn?1426952138
Hey good to see you again!  It's been a while!

How have you been doing?  Has the Lexapro helped you?  How is the anxiety?

Let me give you my very honest opinion.  If there is not a significant reason (financial issues, medical problems where the Lexapro is contraindicated) to go off the Lexapro, then simply don't. If it has helped you, then there is no reason you can not continue to take it, even long term.  Especially because you are on a fairly low dose, you have lots of wiggle room should the dose ever need to be increased.

MANY MANY of us have found ourselves caught in the trap of wanting to stop taking meds, for a host of reasons.  We don't "want" to have to take something forever, we feel so much better, that we don't NEED it anymore, etc etc.  Unfortunately, for a good number of people, d/c'ing these meds ends up with a reemergence of anxiety, sometimes mcuh more severe than the initial anxiety was (hard to believe huh?).  Do some searching, you'll find lots of threads with people in these situations.

I did this to myself many times.  After YEARS of being on meds, I would decide that I felt so good, was in a much better place emotionally with NO anxiety, that I didn't need it anymore.  I would be okay for about 6 months, sometimes a bit longer.  EVERY time I went off my medication, I always ended up back at square one, starting the process all over again, and not to scare you, but relief is even harder to come by on subsequent attempts.  A med that may have helped you may not work anymore, or you will find that the side effects are much more bothersome that the 1st time around.  A med that you may have tolerated well may be intolerable the 2nd time around.  This happens a lot.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just think LONG and hard about this decision.  Really look at WHY you are tapering off, is it your doc's recommendation?  Is it based on reasons like I listed above (ie, not "needing" it anymore, or not wanting to take something long term)?  Trust me when I tell you that it would be a LOT easier for you to just keep doing what you're doing and keeping the anxiety at bay than to take the gamble of ending up back where you started, with possibly an even harder time getting it back under control.  If you are deciding to do this because you don't want to take Lexapro long term, I'm going to flat out tell you that is NOT a good reason.  If you had diabetes, high blood pressure, or other medical condition that required you to take a pill every day, you wouldn't give it a second thought.  This should not be and IS no different.

I would just absolutely HATE to see you come back in 6 months, or a year, in dire straights, kicking yourself for making a rash decision for all the wrong reasons.  It happens a lot my friend.  Especially because I clearly remember how difficult your struggle was when you first started treating your anxiety.  You had one hell of a fight.

The last time I did this to myself, and ended up back at square one, I realized that I came off the med because I thought I didn't NEED it anymore, because I was basically anxiety free.  It NEVER dawned on me that I was anxiety free BECAUSE of the meds.

Again, I'm not trying to scare you, just making you aware that this is a common path for people to take, that frequently ends poorly.  If you DO decide to come off the Lexapro after giving it AMPLE and serious thought, then my advice to you is to be proactive.  Not only are you obviously going to want to taper slowly under your doc's guidance, but you are going to want to have a plan in place in the event the anxiety returns.  Stay in therapy, keep using you coping techniques you learned in therapy, etc. For most of us, fighting anxiety is a lifelong battle.  There is no cure.

Sure, people come off meds and do okay, but sadly, more people end up right back to where they started from, if not worse.

We'll be here for you, as always.  Your decision is YOURS only, no one else can make it for you, just be fair to yourself and think about it long and hard before you decide anything.

Best of luck!
Avatar universal
Hey thanks for the comment.... and yes it did help me. I was going through the breakup of my marriage and other personal issues this past year and these were huge contributors to my anxiety.

They have all resolved favorable and my life, although somewhat changed... is back on track.... both my doctor and my psychologist/psychiatrist felt it is both ok and actually time for me to try to wean off the medications. But I plan to take it slow and taper down over a couple of months.

I can tell you that although it did help with anxiety it did have some noticeable long term side effects. Since starting the medication last July i have put on 20 lbs. And I was a very healthy, always going to the gym type of guy and still am.... but nothing i did seem to stop the weight gain... as I researched online many others claim the same thing happened to them on Lexapro and other SSRI's.

My doctor told me the plan was 8 months to a year and see how i am doing. They feel I am doing ok.. and so do I.... now I want to see how I do without chemical assistance..... so i'm gonna give it a go.. knowing very well that I can always go back if things get bad... but the stressors that caused this in the first place are no longer there.....

I'll keep you all posted again....
480448 tn?1426952138
Sounds very reasonable, and let's hope that your life circumstances were the main triggers for your anxiety instead of a chronic anxiety issues.  I just remember how severe your anxiety was and how hard you worked toward getting some relief.

I sincerely hope that you do just fine without the Lexapro.  Just stay vigilant.  If you start noticing the anxiety starting to resurface, don't mess  around, get yourself back to your doctor ASAP, and just remember that most times, anxiety becomes more treatment resistant the subsequent times you try to treat it.

Very best of luck, do keep us updated.
Avatar universal
yeah... after going through a year of therapy as well pretty confident on what the source of my anxiety was....and last year not only was i going through all that crap but i was entirely hesitant, as you may remember from mydaily journal postings here, to start the SSRI coupled with the fact that I had hyperchondria it was really a perfect storm.... if there is one thing I am glad of is that the Lexapro stabilized me in order to get the therapy and recognize exactly what i was doing to myself and what was causing it.... the sad thing is many people dont go that route it seems.. they just medicate, the feelings go away and the source of them never gets dealt with... so of course if they try coming off... they will soon be back at square 1..... i know i have no guarantees but who does in life right? at least if i ever have to go back on it....i know what i am up against this time.... so its all good...
480448 tn?1426952138
I agree, therapy is a must, along with medication.  However, a lot of us with anxiety disorders (I have panic disorder for example) don't have a deep rooted issue or life stressor that causes our anxiety, it's with us for life.

Hopefully, your situation will be different, and you'll maintain the stability after you're off the Lexapro.  I'm certainly pulling for you!
1699033 tn?1514116733
I completely agree with Nursegirl in the whole thinking it through process.  I did however successfully go off medication for about 10 years.  I was not OCD/anxiety free but it was manageable.  Unfortuantely I did end up back on it when a big stressor came into my life.  And yes, Nursegirl was right, my initial side affects of taking a different medication was a lot worse than the first time I took meds.  Not sure why that is actually.  

As with anything there are pros and cons.  I sincerely hope it works for you and your keeping a blog on here again may help people in the future.  

Good luck and take care.  
Avatar universal
well I am on day 6 of a reduced dosing of Cipralex (from 15 to 12.5mgs) So far no major adverse physical effects if I had to say anything it would be perhaps a bit more jittery and find that I get tired more quickly at night... but not at all sure that is attributable to the weaning off process.

I will continue at this dosage for another 10 days and then drop again to 10 mgs.... and hold that for two weeks and see what happens. Taking it nice and slow... no rush...
Avatar universal
the other thing I am doing is getting back to going to the gym everyday.... i read that exercising increases seratonin levels and therefore can reduce weaning off side effects by stimulating increased seratonin levels naturally...
480448 tn?1426952138
Sounds great!  Thanks for the update!
Avatar universal
1.5 weeks at the lowered dosing of 12.5 mgs (down from 15) and don't really feel any different so plan to drop to 10 mgs next week and see what happens.
480448 tn?1426952138
That's great news.  Just goes to show that a controlled, deliberate taper will either greatly reduce, or eliminate symptoms.
Avatar universal
Ok so latest update on my weaning off Lexapro..... I weaned down to 5 mg doses without too much problem... stayed there for 2 weeks and then stopped completely about 2 weeks ago... and about 3 days later I really started to feel the dizziness, lightheadedness and it is still going on. Some days and/or times of day seems to be worse than others and those times vary. I tried the slow taper (almost two months) and while I had almost no symptoms tapering.. the minute I stopped and the drug exited my system ... well.... different story.

I will never take another dose of this medication again. I cannot understand how a drug that causes this type of physical reaction when you stop it is deemed "non addictive"....clearly my body needs it or thinks it does.... That said, everyone is different.. I learned that ramping up on it last year and the same applies for weaning off. I am hoping that eventually (sooner rather than later) my system will re-adapt and these symptoms will go away. I am working out at the gym everyday now so trying to counteract this with that activity. I dont have anxiety anymore... I just have withdrawal from this <> drug......

480448 tn?1426952138
Well, it's no secret that there is a "discontinuation syndrome" for some with these kinds of meds.  I understand your use of the word "addictive", but really, something that is addictive is a LOT different.  

Some people are far more sensitive to meds, and people will have varying experiences with these types of drugs.  There are also a whole other camp of people that have ZERO problems starting or stopping these kinds of meds, even cold turkey.  The same can not be said for a narcotic opiate.  Anyone who takes a narcotic long enough will experience withdrawal. Different mechanisms of actions, different receptors, etc.

You will get to feeling better.  Another thing you have to remember is that the nature of anxiety itself can cause a LOT of people to become uber focused on every sensation.  THAT alone will intensify what they
think" they are feeling.  You have been expecting the worse during this whole process, from when you started to med, to when you tapered.  I'm not speaking of that in a negative way, I just mean that you FULLY expected to have troubles, and every little physical symptom was attributed to the Lexapro.  See what I mean?  

It is VERY hard to sort through what are REAL symptoms from the meds, and what is our anxious minds convincing us that we're having issues related to the meds.  Please understand that I'm NOT in any way trying to say what you're going through ISN'T related to the Lexapro, I'm just giving you the facts relating to how anxious people can often point the finger at something without looking at the bigger picture.  You don't feel well, and you almost, in the back of your mind expected somewhat of a rough time coming off...it's almost a self fulfilling prophecy, ya know?

Any which way, you're off the Lexapro, and you're doing positive things to keep the anxiety in check, which is great.  I recommend that you keep up with the therapy for a while too, and if you EVER have a reemergence of anxiety or panic in the future, start addressing it right away, get back into therapy, employ your coping techniques, whatever you need to do.  The quicker you address it, the easier it becomes to manage.  You'll become very good at assessing your anxiety when it crops up.

I wish you the very best of luck, and thanks for the update, please come back and let us know how you're doing.  If this is related to the Lexapro, with your slow taper, you should be feeling better soon!  Take care!
Avatar universal
I am on 10mg of Cipralex and attempted the weaning process a couple of weeks ago, I did half a pill for 2 weeks then stopped ... I was OK for a couple of days then crashed ... severe headaches, zapping pulses, very irritable, stomach cramping ... I ended up taking a pill as I had no idea what to do. Went to my DR and he said because it was a very low dosage I shouldn't have had any issues but to take the full pill until my body recovered then wean a bit longer ... Does anyone have any advice ... I want to be off the pills but never want to go thru that again. I have 2 young children and never want them to see me in that much pain and discomfort again.
480448 tn?1426952138
Have your doctor set you up on a slow taper, to minimize any effects.  How long were you on the med?  Even though you were on a low dose, if you were on it for any given amount of time (3 or more months), it IS possible to have some "withdrawal-like" symptoms.

Tell your doc, the slower, the better.  That's really the key to a successful taper.

Good luck hon!
Avatar universal
I have been on cipralex for about 3 years now.Symptoms and side effect free. I was on 20mg and have dropped down to 15mg for about a 3 weeks. I was feeling great up until recently. I haven't been able to sleep for the past 4 nights. Has anyone else experienced insomnia as a withdrawl side effect??
I am a bit worried because my first warning signs of depression were the physical symptoms of nausea and insomnia. The mood changes came later.
Avatar universal
I tapered for 3 weeks - week 4 was no pills. I am on day 3 of no pills and I didn't sleep last night and have been light headed and weird feeling all day. Hope this passes soon. I took the day off work tomorrow, because it was hard to be at work today. I am still on 75 mg of Trazodone at night for sleeping, but I sometimes take 50mg of gravol with it to actually get a good nights sleep.
Avatar universal
Well, I just tapered off 15mg. cipralex, after 6 years on it.  One thing I have noticed is that all of you, except one person, tapered too quickly.  Slow means very slow.  I tapered by 1/2 10mg. pill for one month, then 1/2 for another month, then 1/2 for another month and so on.  I am off now, about 4 days and there certainly are side effects.  Insomnia, agitation,  a little anxiety but more so that was related to an outside sitmumulus.  

The thing that is happening in our brains is the brain is trying to produce seratonin now, and it has basically gotten lazy the past while as the medication was doing it for the brain.  This is the hazard, and a huge hazard of taking these meds.  When you go off, your brain is left at 0 seratonin, more or less, until it learns to produce it on its own.  Look for ways to support your brain to do so.  Rhodiolo/a for example helps.  If you get these symptoms while d/c this drug, it may not be because you are still depressed and needing it back, it because the brain has to re-learn.  This is a difficult situation to be in.  Good luck to all of us.  I'm staying off, suffering the consequences and finding other ways to boost my seratonin levels.   go for it.
Avatar universal
This has been a very informative conversation. I have been tapering off Lexarpo 20mg since June. 20 mg every other day for two weeks caused my symptoms to return so I changed to 10 mg everyday for a month. Felt fine. Switched to 10 mg every other day, felt fine (JULY). August, I continued this and near the end of the month went to 5 mg every other day for ab 2 weeks, then went off of it completely about mid september. When I went completely off, I started getting the dizziness, or "jolts" as someone described it. Irritable, moody, tearful, fatigue and body achiness have been with me now for the last 2-3 weeks. I'm feeling HORRIBLE! The "Zaps, jolts, or dizziness" have gotten much worse the last week. Another interesting thing is that the last few weeks I have started menses as well. Now that my menses are done, I've gotten a bit of relief from the irritability, but the zaps and fatigue are still present. Wondering if I'm dealing with PMDD.

The comment that was made about our bodies being lazy about creating seratonin makes a lot of sense to me, and I was thinking about going and getting some HTp-5 today to try and help me through this process. But, then I might just need to take that for a while.

I tapered on my own without consulting my doc, and when I told her, she was not happy. I want my body to function on its own without a chemical, but I also agree with the diabetes comment. The unfortunate thing is that with depression, the line is a little more unclear. There is a strong belief that depression is only linked to life circumstance or bad life management techniques. As a depression suffer, I end up blaming myself for my symptoms and feeling pretty bad.

If anyone has any help to offer, I would sure appreciate it!
Avatar universal
I went to the nutrition store the same day I wrote this post and got some HTP-5. I've been taking 2-3 per day and they are really helping the brain zaps go away. I take one in the morning 30 min before I eat, one in the later afternoon on an empty stomach, and one before bed. (150mg total) I have more energy when I wake and feel much better. Planning on taking this for 12 weeks.
Avatar universal
I too am reducing my meds it's a slow process for me but I'm determined. For me it's because I have gained about 20 lbs and on my small 5'3 frame it shows a lot. I'm normally very thin and active but I have become lazy and exhausted every moment of the day. I'm going from a whopping 40 mg down to 10 mg hopefully. I'm at 20 mg now and just did 15 tonight.
Avatar universal
I have been on cipralex 20 mg for post partum as well as clomazopam .05 1 and half to 2 a day. Like everyone I want off. Not only because I feel better but because its pressing im my brain.  All the psychiatrist wants to do is ads welbutrine or anilify. A new drug.  She eveluated me on my worse week of pmsing and great life changing situations that wouls increase anyones levels of anxiety.  Now I am upset because I said no to the increasing meda she is closing my file.  So I am on 20 mg amd need to tapper off any suggestion
Avatar universal
I'm in my second year of 10mg cipralex.  I have forgotten to take my meds for 4 days (reasons of unusual time pressure when waking in the morning when I take it). Anyway I was going through hell with thoughts of suicide,  Then I looked at my pill draw and realized I was off meds for 4 days.....

Now I am thinking these meds are dangerous.  Coming off those 4 days was worse than anything I had to start the meds.  Now I am wondering if I should ween off and find another method to cope with stress.
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone,
I have been taking a low dose of cipralex for approximately 3 years. I decided recently that I did not want to take the medications and wish I had never started them in the first place.
I did not experience many side effects from taking the medication, mostly inhibition of libido which is not good. This has an impact on your relationship and that is very important to me.
My anxiety was always there but not very severe. I had what I would term as a panic attack while going through menopause.
I did all of the long term tapering as recommended and as many of you have done but the results were just as crappy afterwards.
It makes sense that something you have been on for a long time is not easy to come off but it also scares me to think of the impact that it must have on our bodies and minds to be numbed by this drug.
I was okay the first few days off the drug but now in week 2 I have been nauseated, feel dizzy (of course these tie together), and the buzzing in my head is what really freaks me out. It is bizarre but it feels like there is change clinking in my head - I know that sounds really weird but I do not know how else to describe it. I am really tired and do not have the same energy to go to the gym although I know that this overall well-being.
I am really frustrated with my physician who did not take the time to tell me how difficult it is to get off these medications.
Thank-you for the informative conversation - I will NEVER touch these drugs again.
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