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How To Withdraw From Lexapro

Hi,

I have been taking 10mg of Lexapro for a year and a half and recently decided to taper off due to fatigue and weight gain. I have mentioned cutting back to my doctor, but she seems adamant that I stay on the meds indefinitely. I do not agree with this because I am concerned about the long term effects, which are largely unknown. I am going to discontinue treatment with her due to changes in my insurance policy, so I decided to try to cut back on my own. (I am in the process of looking for another physician.)

I have been taking 7.5mgs for two weeks and after initially experiencing crying spells, malaise, anger, and nausea, it seems those symptoms have tapered off. Now I am having terrible headaches. Is this typical after two weeks of being at the same dosage level?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Ilene
46 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Its hard to tell whether the symptoms are withdrawal,or are coming from the underlying anxiety that moved you to take the medication in the first place.  How is your life going in general.  If its going well, and no major decisions or problems, then the headache are probably withdrawal.  It may seem paradoxical, but actually lowering the dose more may help the headahces.  The other symptoms are typical withdrawal.  When you get a new doctor, start tapering off so you end up 3 weeks from now stopping after taking the lowest dose every three day for a week before stopping.
Avatar universal
When cutting back, you need to ad another anti-depressant to your program.  With coming off Paxil, I had to add Prozac 10mg and increase to 20mg.  With the assistance of a psychiatrist, he  weened me off Paxil while stabilizing me on Prozac and then within two weeks I was of the Prozac also.

Make an appointment with someone who knows the meds.
Avatar universal
I tried to quit lexapro cold turkey and at first I felt okay except for some bizzare withdraw symptoms. After about a week though I became very emotional and wanting to cry over every little thing so I started taking it again.
Avatar universal
Help!  I stupidly stopped taking 20MG of Lexapro cold turkey. A week later starting experiencing SEVERE lightheadedness, dizziness and generalized odd feeling.  Depression is ok, and all else is ok.  That lasted a few days, went away and just came back an entire week later.  I know it was dumb to stop cold turkey but I had been on prozac several times in my life and always stopped cold turley with no problems.  Any advice or similar experices?  Thanks much
Avatar universal
I am currently taking lexapro 20mg. i stopped taking it for about a month to see if i didnt need it anymore.  the day after i stopped taking it i also felt lightheaded, dizzy/lost.  sometimes it was bad sometimes it was alright but definately not pleasant.  it probably lasted for a week or so then was gone. that was taht. anxiety is fine.
Avatar universal
I've been taking Lexapro for at least 2 years now.  In the past I had been frequently non-compliant with my meds, stopping and starting at whim.  Then I became more serious (and desperate).  But old habits die hard and I regularly adjust my Lexapro.  I was prescribed 20mg a day but sometimes up it to 30mg daily (usually before my period).
I notice an increase in physical effects of anxiety (chest discomfort, lightheadedness etc) when I don't have at least 20mg and I notice problems if I'm even late taking my meds.
But nothing more serious than that.  And when I'm going from 30 back to 20 there's a bit of discomfort.

~rianna
Avatar universal
I had been taking 10mg for about 8 months and decided to quit cold turkey due to weight gain. I experienced the light-headedness, dizziness and odd feeling after 6 days. I have been trying to take 5mg only when the withdrawel gets really bad. I can feel the tension in my jaw and neck and then the dizziness starts. It has been 17 days now and the biggest problem is the nausea. I will get an overwhelming urge to throw up, usually in the morning. Anybody experience that? Or know how long it lasts?
Avatar universal
I've been taking Lexapro for about 1.5 years...helped with my anxiety about death and feeling like I was having heart attacks, etc., but the weight gain and a few other side effects were getting old...I gained 40-45lbs...that's nuts!!  I lost most of my drive aside from work...no energy or desire to get things done around the house.

Need to get back on track so after a weekend of being sick (cold and cough) I had forgotten to take my Lexapro...I was now taking 5mgs a day (1/4 of a 20mg) and decided to just stay off of it...I had just come down a few weeks ago from 10mgs a day, my normal dose in hopes to get off the med.

Well I think it was about 4-5 days and I started feeling odd...light headed, dizzy and feeling the "electrical shocks" in my head that I have heard others state...also a little nausious and trouble concentrating...sort of surreal but kind of different.  Not so bad that I couldn't handle it, but it wasn't enjoyable...tonight I took 5mgs in attempt to curb these withdrawel effects.  

Not certain what I am going to do from here...but likely will try 5mgs. every few days...maybe one tomorrow to get it kicked in.  Hate to self diagnose, but I think it is questionable what my family doctor really knows about coming off this med.

I was taking Paxal (hated the side effects) then tried Zoloft, hated the side effects, but loved the infrequent euporic feelings it gave me about life...I could just stop in the hallway and think, I am so happy and glad to be alive.  Mind you, I have never had any issues with hating life or feeling miserable aside from the anxiety issues revolving around death and feeling like I was having a heart attack...any chest pain or twitch would drive me into a spiral of mild to medium panic...enough to take me to the ER room on three different occasions.  Didn't want this controlling my life so I talked to my doctor about my options with meds.

Now, let me tell you, before actually going on them, I did some Internet research and heard the horror stories of people taking the meds and having serious issues getting off (I don't want this as a lifetime med and feel like I have my anxiety issues under control now).  For the most part I think it was worth taking the meds, as it helped me quite a bit, but like I said, it's time to try life on it's own and lose my weight and get my drive back so I can get some things done around the house again.  I basically have this attitude of who gives a **** and I used to be pretty anal about organization, etc.  My young son and threw rocks at the side of my new car and I really didn't mind...wasn't happy, but in reality it didn't bother me enough to raise my voice at all...hey, he's just a kid was my thought and it's just a car (wish I could stay that way but care enough to get other things done in life).  My wife says I am far less angry about the small things that used to upset me so easily...she hopes I don't go back to that and I think for the most part I can maintain some clarity and perspective on what really matters in life.

I was also prescribed Xanax for emergencies (0.5mg)...I never abused it maybe on tablet a month...if that.  I guess what I hated about it was it made me tired...if I took it at night it would put me right to sleep but I felt wiped out the next morning and had trouble getting up.  Later it felt like it didn't help as much and I didn't want to double my dose...I have heard that Xanax can be quite addictive...I know it worked and relaxed me, but I never felt the need to take unless I felt some kind of anxiety coming on and needed to stop it.

Well, I hate to ramble, but I wanted to shed some light as I know reading these forums really helped me and I wanted to contribute where I could.  I hope to gain back my ability to concentrate better...lose the weight, get back my motivation and become med free.  Not at all happy with the withdrawel effects, but I think I can work out some way to ween off the med...felt like taking the Lexapro tonight set me back from getting off of it, but maybe this is the best way.  

Hope to hear more of the successes of getting off and how you did it...and to what degree the withdrawel effects hit you and finally left you alone.  Best of luck to everyone out there...sometimes I think it would have been best to take the meds and do some psychotherapy...I guess some phychotherapy is still an option, but hate to go to someone that doesn't know what they're doing.  Take care all!!
Avatar universal
It's good to hear something positive. I have been off lexapro for 5 weeks today. I think 4 weeks was the turning point to when the dizziness and heaviness of my head was not something i focused on during every waking hour. I had tapered my 10mg down to 5mg for about 2 weeks and cut those in half and took the 2.5mg every third day until week four. I don't know if this is the best way to do step down but it worked well for me. I still get bouts of dizziness but i feel like the drug has left my system finally. On a different note, i have started to notice the difference between the happy euphoria i felt when i was on lexapro and what my normal state truly is. I don't ever want to go back to needing a chemical to feel what i guess is happiness, although i am thankful that i was able to see life in a new light, even for just a few months.
Avatar universal
I have been taking Lexparo for about 2 months now. I use to smoke Marijuana alot, then it just made my anxiety worse, so I quit for about 8 months. Now I have started back and need to know if the marijuana will interact with Lexapro? Will it cause anything to happen?
Avatar universal
I was on 10mg for six months. I tapered off slow and didn't suffer any side effects. No insomnia at all. I broke the pills in quarters & halves. My taper schedule: 1st week = 7.5mg, 2nd week = 5mg, 3rd week = 2.5mg, 4th week = 2.5 every other day and then off. Im also taking 50mg of Trazodone which is probably easing the taper side effects. Most of the stressors that drove me to Lexapro are now gone, so I doubt I'll have a relapse in the future.
Avatar universal
Life after Lexapro!
I was on Lexapro for over 2 years and I gained 40 pounds. I went off in May by tappering off. I really didn't have many withdrawl issues, but now I am remembering one of he main reasons I went on in the first place. I have bouts of anger and I am extremely irritable. I am wondering if this is from going off the meds or are these really my true emotions.
Has anyone else had issues with major changes in thier emotions after being off meds for a while?
When I was on the meds I felt numb, but now I can't tell what mood I will be in one day to the next.
Avatar universal
I am so glad I found this board...I was on paxil for 12 years and then went to lexapro 20 mgs......I have done the taper thing/etc. and let me tell you..I am on an emotional roller coaster ride......this is going on week 13....I am a complete basket case......well that is..it comes and goes...one minute I'm fine and the next minute I'm crying......I can't take it anymore....I know I am experiencing withdrawal...psychological...which are worse than the withdrawal from the drug in itself...but I need to know how long does this last...will I ever get my life back????I am so frustrated not knowing what to expect on a day to day basis....my anxiety is way out of control one day....I'm emotional the next.....I have done everything possible...I've walked an hour a day, watching sugars, eating healthy.....etc.  I can't take it anymore....Dr.s only want to prescribe meds.they don't want you to come off of them....however my psychologist wants me off everything...but ....how can he work with someone who according to my dr. has serotonin withdrawal??? It's terrible.....to think 13 weeks.....I know time will heal all, but **** this is so difficult...probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life......I look forward to more people posting about there experiences/etc. since long term withdrawal is so hard to find on the internet....I know it can be done....and I want to be living proof of that...but right now I'm so confused.....thanks again...bigbaz
Avatar universal
I've been on Lexapro for 2 years and 7 months.  i started at 10mgs.  6 months ago, i got depressed again and on the advice of my therapist, backed up by my doctor, i increased to 20mgs.  i just don't want to keep increasing or switching around medications.  i'm also nursing my 16 month old.  about a month ago i experienced vertigo, for no apparent reason.  i checked side effects of lexapro and decided that must be it, even though i hadn't changed the dosage anywhere near the time of the vertigo.  well i've been down to 15mgs, with ony a headache for a week and a half.  then, 3 nights ago i started feeling the vertigo again.  i spent yesterday in bed all day because every time i moved i either fell down or threw up.  my step-mom (who is a psychiatrist) swears that the vertigo can't be related to the lexapro since it just appeared this week and i've been down 5mgs for over a week already.  she says it's probably a drop in my blood pressure and to have that checked...either way, isn't that also related to weaning off of lexapro???  any ideas on how to curb this vertigo would be appreciated....and if anyone knows if it can creep up after a week and a half, let me know!  thanks.
Avatar universal
My thoughts and hopes are with everyone going through the Lex. roller-coaster!   I suffered severe withdrawal when I tried to quit too fast after taking Lex. for a year.  After a year and a half on Lex. I am now weaning off slowly on a month by month plan - from 10mg - now on 5mg for a month and then plan to cut down to 2.5 mg. for a month - and then rotate 2.5 mg and no dose every other day.   It is difficult to cut the pills into smaller sizes , but I have found that actually biting them with your teeth can cut them....also an 'Exacto' knife helps.   As far as weight gain, I am sick of it too, as I am used to being naturally thin.   I have noticed though that exercise does seem to help.  Yoga is good for relaxing too.  I would also suggest getting professional help in regard to learning life/coping skills.  In the darkest times, I try to remember that painful moments may seem to last forever, but they do give way to better ones.
Avatar universal
Well.... so far I did a quick taper off of lexapro. In the hope to be med free cause I want to see if I really need it or not. But now im having the stupid run of the mill withdraw effects. Dizzyness.. that one is a little fun untill you get motion sick from it.. then i get a sureal like state of mind.. kinda like tunel vision or a lucide dream in exstream detail, and finaly im getting the lack of enery. Thing i've noticed since i've take this med are.. Masive weight gain i was like 120 now im 145, diarrhea wich goes away, and  my sex drive has changed.. lets just say I dont release as easy anymore... and I think thats about it. My advice if your planing to quit taking this pill is to slowly tapper off... i mean real slow.. it takes week even moths for it to completly leave your system. also realize that you will most likey have some with draw no matter how slow you taper off. The idea is the slower you taper off the less with draw syomtoms. I hope this has helped anyone out there with as scatered brain as mine ^_^.
Avatar universal
Hi everyone,

I have been on Lexapro for under a year.  I've been using it to treat Panic attacks that developed last summer.  I started with 5mg and worked my way up to 10mgs with the help of my doctor.  I am attempting to ween myself on the Lexapro because I want to be able to work on my anxiety/panic attacks without the medication getting in the way of my therapy.  I have also gained some weight with this medication as it seems to have made me rather fatigued and sluggish.  (all I want to do is sleep.)  I am also experiencing issues with constipation and I don't have to tell you how unpleasant that can be.  I am not interested in trying other meds because I tried several different kinds (wellbutrin, effexor, paxil) and experienced bad side effects with each one.  Frankly, I want to be med free.  Especially since there are unknown long-term side effects.

Anyway, to ween off I have been 10mg one day and 5mg the next day.  I am experiencing some of the same withdrawl sypmtoms as many of you have.  I have had moments of dizziness and vertigo.  It usually happens out of nowhere, but it increased quite a bit when I have tried to work out or exercise.  I do notice my anxiety is a little worse since I've been on the meds, but I do not entirely mind this.  I want to be able to feel uncomfortable enough so that when I do meditation or breathing exercises it will have an impact.

I've chatted with many others about this topic and it seems that many of them feel twice as bad going off the medication as they did before they started the medication.  This is certainly not easy and I wish everyone good luck on their progress.
Avatar universal
In crisis.  Attempted to go from 5 mg on Sunday to nothing.  The first few days were what I expected. Dizziness, crying, nausea, unable to sleep.  My doctor assured me that it may last a few weeks but would get better every day.  Then Friday night things collapsed.  I became severely agitated, screaming, violent.  Took sleeping pills to make it through the night and woke up the same.  Spent all day yesterday violently agitated.  Called my doctor who precribed me xanax, which did nothing.  I'm still feeling violent and suicidal.  My doctor suggested I try the prozac thing, but I am losing faith.  I went down on dosage from 20 to 10 to 5 with no problems, and no one seems to be able to explain to me why a change from 5 to zero has me ready to hurt myself.  I am really tired of this entire industry and don't think I can take it anymore.
Avatar universal
I have been on Lexapro now for 2 years, but have been on various SSRI's for the last 10 years.  Never really been off.  Last year, I went back to school full-time. My short-term memory was noticebly changed.  I also noticed problems "coming up with the right word", when in conversation.  My vocabulary is not what it used to be either.  I got really scared. So, I tried to go off Lexapro using the taper-down method described on many blogs related to this same subject.  I decreased to 75% for 2 months, 50% for 3 months, 25% for 3 months.  The "zaps" were driving me nuts!!  I was really having anger & irritability issues, along with lots of crying.  Finally, I had a little "break-down" one weekend and I knew I had to go back to 100% (10mg. per day).  After an 8 month "taper-down", I still couldn't get off. Looking back 10 years ago, I went on an SSRI, because I was midly depressed and OCD runs in my family (though I had no strong signs). But now, it seems like I will never be able to go off SSRI's and my dream of obtaining my Master's is slowly fading.  I hope the makers of these drugs are working on a resolution to this issue.   What if the side effects are permanent?  They keep saying they are not....but do they really know?   I've been seeing a neurologist for 2 months now.  He's working on my problem.  They have tested my blood for everything he could think of testing.  They did an MRI, and 2 long days of cognitive testing.   I'm waiting on the results....  I'll keep you posted.
Avatar universal
Don't lose hope, I got my Masters Degree while going through all this, and felt the same way you did.  I also have been on SSRIs for 10 years.  Started when I was 16 and it was only supposed to be for a few months to get me through a rough time.  I have never been able to get off, not even with tapering or switching meds.  I am finally trying the Lexapro to Prozac method that someone describes earlier in this thread.  I just pray to God that this will do it.  Anyway, have faith...you are not alone!
Avatar universal
I have been on clitoplam (lexapro) for almost 3 yrs. I have tried to quit cold turkey and after a few days I get the brain tremers that are so intense I cannot get out of bed how can i get off this so that i can have a baby with out complications....
Avatar universal
Hello everyone,

I just joined this list after reading your various comments regarding the pros and cons of discontinuing Lexapro.  I have discussed this with both my psychiatrist and my therapist (a psychologist).  The M.D. thinks it a bad idea to discontinue.  The psychologist thinks it might be good -- he says clients who have gone off it feel more "authentic."  Lately I have been having problems with confusion and forgetfulness.  This is complicated by alcohol (yes, I know this isn't a good idea), but seems to come and go randomly as well.  Currently I take 10mg.  I also take Lamictal as a mood stabilizer, since I'm bipolar (although I've only had one manic episode precipitated by a tricyclic).  I've heard that Lamictal also has antidepressive properties, so was wondering if I could manage on that alone.

thanks for your help.
Avatar universal
So how are you with the Lexapro withdrawals now?  I've been having insane insomnia and everything else you were going through in November 2005 (your post date) for the past 6 weeks after only being on 20mgs for maybe 3-4 months.  The Lexapro wasn't really helping my anxiety either way so, I just slowly cut myself off of it.   Now, I'm manic in that, like a light switch, I have to clean or talk or do something starting around 10pm when I should be getting ready to go to bed.  I usually make to bed around 4-5am and drag into work at 11am when I normally would be in around 7-8am. Klonopin has worked fine for 15 years calming my anxiety (2mgs a day)....but, I decided I would try Lexapro and damn do I regret it now! I've even decided to go to a pshycologist since I have NEVER felt so out of control ONLY after taking, or lack thereof, Lexapro.  How much longer do I have to go??? Or maybe a better question would be..... after how many weeks did you finally feel normal??
Avatar universal
I took Lexapro for only a month and a half.  I was only on 10 mg. a day.  Since starting Lexapro, I have been miserable.  I've gained 15 pounds in a month and a half.  I've had no desire for sex, constant headaches, dizziness, tired, etc.  So, I decided this wasn't worth it and it was making my depression worse to feel that way every day.  I started tapering off it and figured it wouldn't be too hard since I'd only taken it for a little over a month.  I was fine for a couple of days, but then all of a sudden I started feeling 20 times worse than I had been.  I felt like I had the flu 24-7.  I was dizzy, nauseous, hot flashes, headaches, so tired, unmotivated, mood swings, crying spells, etc.  I felt like a crazy person.  
I had to go back on 5 mg. of Lexapro per day.  I am still feeling serious side effects every time I try to cut back.  It is insane.  I think it will take me a long while to get completely off.  My doctor says I should just switch to a different AD, but after my experience with Lexapro, I don't think I want any of these drugs in my body unless I am seriously psychotic, then maybe the side effects of AD with SSRI's would be worth it.  I've done a lot of reading up on the other AD, and they sound just as bad if not worse, especially people's experiences trying to get off the drugs.
For those of you who might be interested in switching AD, My doctor mentioned that he has had patients switch from Lexapro to Welbutrin without bad side effects and that the Welbutrin helped up their metabolisms and they lost the weight that they gained from taking Lexapro.  (this is what he reccomended to me, but I didn't want to chance it)  
Anyways, I just want to be done with this drug.  I don't think everybody has such bad side effects, but I was one of those people that had just about every bad side effect.
I hope if there is anybody out there who is just starting this, and having bad side effects, get off it now, while you still can.  After about a month, your body is pretty much reliant on it and you will probably have a hard time getting off it.
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