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Avatar universal


I just wanted to share my story about Lexapro. I took one 10mg Lexapro pill and 8 hours later had a severe adverse reaction to the drug. My life was about to become a nightmare.(This incident happened 14 months ago)

My experience is rare but it is important to stress the dangers not explained by professionals in the field and there are many similarities between my experience and that of those who experience terrible withdrawal symptoms from SSRI's.

THE FIRST DAY: I woke up and jumped out of my bed terrified at what I was feeling. Terrible headache, nausea, crazy thoughts and visual hallucinations. Waves of energy ran through my body almost like I was on fire on the inside. I was completely physically agitated and could not sit down or eat. I had to pace or walk or run just to get the nervousness to be bearable. I actually ran circles around my house and one day I ran down my street in a sprint right out of bed, almost naked. I wouldn't eat for 3 days due to the nausea. I couldn't drive for a few weeks and I was cared for by my girlfriend to remain sane and mentally ok.

Keep in mind, I had no symptoms like this in my entire life before I took the pill. I know it was this pill that did this to me 100%. I was prescribed this drug for insomnia. There were so many side effects that I don't know where to start and also they would come and go in different combinations so it is very difficult to convey the experience.

Sometimes I could not lay down. Sometimes I could not eat too much. Sometimes I could not have sex. Sometimes I would feel as if I weren't real. Sometimes I would not be able to work out. Sometimes I had to walk for miles to release the energy. Sometimes I would freak out and cry and run down the street. Sometimes I would call for help and not know why. I would feel so scared for no reason. I would have nervous attacks lasting for hours or days. The first week , I remember my hands didn't feel real. I kept rubbing my thumbs against my fingers to feel if they were my hands doing it. Sometimes I would be nauseous for days. The waves of sensations I could feel when hormones were released was uncanny and frightening. I determined this from information I learned from my girlfriend, who was a nurse, and while studying the endocrine system. The waves that were waking me up screaming in the mornings were the hormones that normally would wake a person gently. It was like everything inside my body was amplified to the point of being painful. Sometimes I would watch movies and believe they were real. This was terrifying, especially if it was a horror movie or someone died. I would fall apart. All sensations were far too strong and I could not deal with my perception to the stimuli of everyday life.

It was terrible. Everything in my body was wacked out! I couldn't sleep at all some nights and sometimes I couldn't lay down or I'd have an attack of what people refer to as brain zaps. I believed I was going insane. I thought the symptoms would go away after a few weeks because the pharmacist and doctors told me this. The neurologist had no idea what was going on. The side effects did not go away. The first 2 months were hell! A rollercoaster of sensations, emotions and thoughts would come and go out of nowhere and last different amounts of time from hours to days. It was truly exhausting. By the 3rd month I was broken. I cried off and on for no reason for an entire month. I do not usually cry so this was very strange. By the 4th month I was somewhat better and the crying had dramatically slowed. I had not been able to work at all for 4 months and decided to work one day a week to get back on the horse. I had lost my house, job, savings, excellent credit rating and by the 5th month I lost my girlfriend.

It has been a very difficult time in my life. The most difficult time. It has been 14 months and I have been gradually improving over time. I am not completely well yet. I have chatted online with 2 other who have had this experience over one pill and they tell me it takes approximately 2 years to be alright again. I couldn't believe it when I first heard it but I believe it now. It is crazy. I have also met several people who have this experience and get well after approximately 6 weeks. Then there are those who are fine until they try to stop taking the drug and find themselves in between a rock and a hard place due to the withdrawal. I am assuming that these drugs are experimental and dangerous. In part, I say this because Pharma reps, doctors, pharmacists and my neurologists have told me that they have no idea what a normal amount of serotonin is, in the brain. I am also saying this because none of these professionals are aware of any way to help people with problems caused by these medications because they are unaware of what these drugs actually do in our brains. THEY DON'T KNOW. Noone seems to know.

Well, it has been 14 months and I am working 4 days a week, part time, until I get better.(If I do get completely better) I am in recovery but I receive no disability and apparently have no case for a law suit. If you think you are protected by the law, think again. It is unbelievable what these psychiatric meds. do to some people and why they are dished out to people like candy. Whether or not you have a good experience or bad, these drugs are unproven and dangerous. My experience has forced me to see a reality that I am disgusted with. I hope this information can help people that may be going throught the hell I went through. For me, at the time, a few people telling me I wasn't going to die meant everything to me. I had no idea except for what they shared with me. Contact me if you need some info.

My name is Tony: wdtony at Hot mail com.
9 Responses
Avatar universal
It is HIGHLY doubtful all of your symptoms were caused by taking ONE lexapro pill.  Lexapro has a half life of 27-32 so it would be essentially out of your system within a week.  Any "side-effects" would subside after this time as the agent "inducing" them is no longer in your system.  It is more likely the lexapro simply induced an underlying state you were predisposed to.
Avatar universal
I am assuming you are not an expert on the brain and the effects of an SSRI on the brain. My neurologist doesn't know why or how it happened but he does believe it was the lexapro that did the damage to me. He said HE didn't even know how this SSRI worked in the brain. I was perplexed at this specialist being perplexed. My doctor had thrown this free box-o-lexapro at me like it was candy.

I have talked to 2 other people who had this same reaction to the lexapro. Both said it took 2 years before they were completely healed. WOW, what a coincidence.  I HIGHLY doubted it myself at first. The point is that you may be correct in your assumptions that this drug "induced" an underlying condition. If you are correct in your deduction, why is it that nothing else that I have experienced or ingested in my life has brought out this underlying condition? I was 34 when I took it.

If lexapro is going to "induce" a state like I experienced in people then I still advise against taking it.

My ears still ring to this day because of what that pill did to me. I know the pill did this to me. I felt it burning my brain 8 hours after I took it. What it did to me was very similar to serotonin syndrome, which is damage to the brain due to too much serotonin. My physiology was why I had the adverse reaction, I am trying to raise awareness that there are many others who share a sensitivity to these SSRI's that can be very detrimental.

Do you HIGHLY doubt a bee sting could kill a person? Or what about someone dying from eating peanuts? What else do you HIGHLY doubt. Some people have different physiologies. That's all.

I provided my story, If anyone has factual evidence to the contrary, I would be willing to look at the research. Although, it would be very difficult to alter my opinion.


Avatar universal

Never say never.

With the exception of a few comments, I appreciate your seemingly unbiased opinion.
I am glad to see you have put so much thought into this because noone is perfect, including myself. I can use all the help I can get. Also, others that might experience what I have from an SSRI (and have) could greatly benefit from your insight. Although, "There is not a snowballs chance in hell" is not a scientific measurement of possibility or probability.

I stand by my statement though because it is all true. Until I have evidence to the contrary, I must believe my premise about the source of the reaction is the best explanation. After all, I lived it.

Is there any way you could provide me with information about what a normal serotonin level in the brain is? Could you tell me what an SSRI does "exactly" to the brain and nervous system? I have asked this question and every medical professional I have spoken to does not have any answer to these questions.

I do agree with most of what you say because overall, your view seems sound.

My argument is that, if I do, in fact, have this underlying condition, would I have been physically fine for the rest of my life had I not taken the SSRI? If this is the case, I would encourage people to not take SSRI medication, which is the same stance I am taking now. This is why I believe this argument is irrelevant to the subject.

Homeostasis, I believe is very real but I don't see exactly what you mean. Homeostasis is probably driven out of it's boundaries frequently in the general population but I don't see the significance in this discussion. In other words, if you are unhappy at your job, you are not experiencing hoeostasis.

I am taking steps to enter therapy. I agree with you on this. I think I should have gone to therapy in the first place instead of poisoning myself. I had insomnia due to my shift change at work which went from 7am to 7pm over to 7pm to 7am plus overtime. This resulted in 60 to 72 hour work weeks at times. I was a shambles for 4 months before I went to the doctor. My boss wouldn't take me off night shift and I was only sleeping 3 to 4 hours a day which adds credence to you theory about something else being involved.

If you think about it though, everyone is down for one reason or another when they ask for medication. They aren't exactly on top of the world and this is another part that bothers me about the lack of information about SSRI's and to whom they should be prescribed.

As far as your panic theory, I can only say that this is my experience and panic is not the culprit here but a reaction to the severe physiological effects of the reaction. For instance; the sensations and pain that I felt were unbearable. If you were in great pain from being eaten by a bear, could you control your panic. Nail you hand to a board and then try not to panic. I say it this way because what I felt was physically painful.

I have met many others who have had this reaction but only lasted about 6 weeks and 2 individuals that weren't well for 2 years due to one 10mg. Lexapro pill. This, along with my personal experience is what I have based my premise on.

My analogies were good because they show that just because a large majority of the population does noy physiologically react to a stimuli, some do. I am  basing the peanut and the bee-sting analogy on the fact that I could have easily killed myself during the first week after taking the pill, so yes, it can be life threatening.

I do agree that Klonopin might be good for stabilization. Although we disagree on my account, I don't think you are completely off the mark here. You have given me some things to think about ( a combination of factors and psychiatric factors) and I thank you for adding your opinion. It is the best opinion I have heard thus far, and very elaborate.

Until we know exactly what lexapro is and does, I fear neither of us will have enough data to form a truly sound argument, for or against.


Avatar universal
I do appreciate the info about SSRI's. I have not seen the data broken down this way before. Are you a neurochemist? Thank you for this data.

The word "believed"  in this sentence caught my eye: ""Psychiatric drugs are believed to alter the actions of neurotransmitters produced by chemical synapses in the brain."" You can see what I mean by this.

I intend on seeking a "good" therapist very soon. After much consideration, I have decided this may be a very good decision. Not because of the reaction but because I believe I could benefit and could use the insight. I have avoided alcohol, caffeine and don't smoke or use artificial sweeteners so I suppose I am already doing some things you have suggested. A few weeks after I took the pill, I drank a cup of coffee and it made me feel like my nerves were burning inside. We may disagree but you do give good advice.

From your definition, there definitely was a disruption of homeostasis. An extreme disruption. I could feel the cortisol,(or whatever combination of hormones) wake me up in the mornings like someone threw a bucket of cold water on me. I had to jump up and would sometimes scream involuntarily. I am glad those months are behind me. The first 3 were atrocious.

It seems to me that I experienced nerve damage due to the adverse reaction. My ears are still ringing at this moment. If someone is burned with fire and then the fire is taken away,  what is the culprit if they are still in pain? From what you have written, It is not due to the the fire because the fire is gone. Could a burn be an underlying condition. Maybe the person's skin is to blame. Do you see my point? It is my belief that the lexapro somehow allowed serotonin (or another neurotransmitter) to damage my nerve cells. I believe that this injury has been slowly healing over time because I have gradually gotten better. I am not completely better and I don't have panic anymore. At times I feel very strange and dizzy but it is nothing like in the beginning.

When I was 17, I worked at a bowling alley and had my leg crushed in a bowling machine. I had nerve damage that took about 2 years to heal and I didn't have feeling in part of my leg for that time. I can feel it fine now but for years I had a lot of pain. It hasn't hurt me for years and I have full feeling now. I think this is relevant because it shows nerves can heal even after several months.

It is difficult to understand your use of the words fixate and illness. I believe I am concerned and believe this is a healthy reaction, not a fixation. (ex. Why are my ears still ringing?) Plus, my main interest here on MedHelp is to warn others about a potential danger, not to seek help for myself. The word illness; you have offered this word as your opinion and although I cannot disagree, I believe this to be questionable. It is obvious that you are very intelligent but I don't believe you can make a diagnosis from our online communications. You have made an assumption and are giving me advice on this assumption. You believe that I have an underlying condition, I believe most people have these ,so called, underlying conditions and I think these differences make most of us unique, not ill.

Although I may be neurotic and you a "brick wall" I appreciate your ideas. We should all be so lucky to be kept on our toes. I don't like critisizm but I understand its importance, especially with the subject of psychiatric medication. I don't agree with all of your opinions, but I do consider them. They are all valid.

Thank you,


Avatar universal
I am dealing with getting off of Lexapro after a year.  I found out that my TSH, thyroid levels, are high.  I have always been thin.  In fact, I have had my thyroid checked my entire life because I have been on the thin side.  Well, guess what?  I started gaining weight after I started Lexapro.  I gained 15 pounds on this drug, over a year.  I have every blood test dating back 20 years.  I am 38 years old. No problems until this year....... My doctor wanted to push another drug on me.  I said, I'm getting off of Lexapro.  What fun that is!?  After two weeks, I have lost 8 pounds.  I hope my thyroid is kicking in!  This is an awful drug!!!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
Are you saying lexapro can affect your thyroid?
Avatar universal
For me, I believe that a side effect of Lexapro was weight gain.  I believe that the weight gain is due to the fact that Lexapro has affected my thyroid. I have done some research and I believe that Lexapro will mess with your metabolic rate.   I am in the process of having my thyroid tested again in a few weeks.  I have been off of Lexapro for almost two weeks.  I have lost almost ten pounds.  I don't know if this is a side effect for others, but I do believe that my thyroid is kicking in.  
Avatar universal
What a great thread.  You may want to get on the net and got to askapatient.com.  This is a great site to find out what experiences others have had with different drugs.  Before I begin taking a drug I go on this site to see the bennies and bads.  I have been on lexapro for 2 months now.  I seem to be having some reaction to it.  Violent body jerks happen at really odd times.  It like the way the body twitches when you first go to sleep.  Secondly, I was getting ready for my day when my hands began to shake.  Not just a little but violently and I couldn't stop them.  I know there are people with the "scientific information" from trials that were done before the drug was on the market.  Guess what, I wasn't one of those people tested.  How could it be known what will happen to ME?  For some reason I have side effects that have never be documented before.  When my hair begins to fall out by the handful, the doc will say "Well I've never seen that before."  Taking my brush out of my purse, proceeding to brush my hair, seem to prove it was actually happening.  DUH!  My hope was to find out that Lexapro's symptoms would "calm down" after taking it a few months.  My goal, seems like one for many people, is to get off any drug I can.  Circumstances have changed since I began taking Lexapro.  If the family and the doc disagree I'll want to try something different.   Still realizing that they aren't ME!  My rambling point is not every side effects are what the drug does to you.  Keep your doc informed and honor what your body tells you.Good luck to you.
Avatar universal
I literally cannot believe I stumbled on your post only to discover that your experience is near identical to mine.  Same symptoms, same reactions, etc.  I was put on lexapro almost 3 years ago ... 5 ml.  But unlike you, my experience after the first 24 hours was super ... I was literally feeling like a million bucks for the first time in a long time.  However, that proved to be very short lived.  By the 3rd day I had a panic attack in the shower (this was reported to and abruptly dismissed by my doctor) and by day 5 I was vomiting my guts out in the emergency room and dealing with rushing burning sensations under my skin all of which followed a severe day long headache.  Foolish me actually allowed them to try a different SSRI pill (I honestly cannot recall which at this point).  But after feeling the return of those burning sensations along with light-headed-ness I stopped cold after taking just one 5 ml dose (against the advise of my doctor who wanted to try yet another SSRI after all of that).  I won't bore you with all of the details, but I too had too had panic / terror sensations, extreme loss of apetite, crying spells just to name a few.  I had to cut back on work (thank God I worked from home and had an assistant) because I was a mess.  I also could not bear to be left alone because I constantly thought I was dying ... I took my 3 year old son out of preschool and had the nanny switch to full days so that they could be home with me while my husband was at work so I would not be alone.  My mother would come and pick me up and drive me around when I had crying spells so that my son would not witness just how bad things were.  Thank God for my loving and patient family, especially my husband, who has had to put up with the most, and could not have been more amazing and supportive.  I too was completely physically and mentally healthy prior to taking this medication and had NEVER before experienced any of these issues.  I was prescribed this medication by my therapist because I was dealing with mild depression due to a WAY overactive work schedule and juggling the demands of a little one ... I was basically very run down.  I was not at all mentally or physically ill in any way.  I mention this because in the months that followed which were filled with doctor visit after doctor visit, each new doctor would meet with me, listen to my story, then tell me that it simply COULD NOT possibly be from the drugs, then run blood tests that always came back fine and then refer me to another doctor (I suppose that's a liability trick ... if you can't find the problem, then leave it up to someone else).  I was scared to begin with but each unsuccessful trip to each new doctor made feel worse about my prospects of recovery.  My mindset at times in the beginning was one of wondering what if I was to be stuck like that ... what an awful thought.  After all, how can you be treated for something that the doctors dismiss as being in my mind because after all, the blood tests look good and they had never heard of Lexapro causing such side effects.  Not one elected to do any research on my behalf.  I have lost tremendous respect for the medical community at large (though I do acknowledge that there are still caring, knowledgeable physicians out there that really do advocate for their patients).  And of course you really don't want to know what I think of the drug companies ... none of it is good.  I will tell you that I am no longer ANGRY about this, it really, does no good.  Instead I have focused on the good that has come from the ordeal ... yes, some good has come from it.  This also may be helpful to you, I found a great deal of peace in prayer and reading the bible, particularly the Psalms - God has a lot to say about helping us in time of need if we will just call on him.  I don't mean to turn this into a religion pitch, but rather wanted to reach out to you (for your comfort and mine as you are the only other person that I have known of to have this experience) to let you know that you are not alone in dealing with this ... nor are you "nuts".  Best regards!!
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