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Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Do They Last?

Lexapro (Escitalopram) has emerged as one of the most popular antidepressant drugs in the United States. It works as an SSRI (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and has approval to treat major depression in individuals over the age of 12. In addition to being utilized for depression, it is also prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is strikingly similar to the drug “Celexa” in the fact that it contains just the (S)-stereoisomer (without the (R)-stereoisomer).

There is controversial evidence suggesting that Lexapro may be slightly more effective than Celexa. In some cases, Lexapro is used to treat social anxiety disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and panic disorder. This is one of the most prescribed SSRI’s in the United States due to the fact that it has been found as one of the most effective. Most people stay on this medication until it either stops working or they are compelled to quit.

When a person quits, they may not expect to experience any significant withdrawal symptoms – especially if this is a person’s first SSRI. If you plan on stopping this medication, it is important to know what you should expect and prepare yourself for the symptoms. Most people experience a pretty severe withdrawal period when they come off of Lexapro, which goes to show the power of this drug.

Factors that influence Lexapro withdrawal

There are a few factors that are thought to influence the severity of withdrawal from Lexapro.  These include things like: time span (i.e. how many months or years you were on this drug), the dosage that you took, whether you quit cold turkey or tapered, and your individual physiology.

1. Time Span

How long were you taking Lexapro? In the event that you were on it for years, the withdrawal process is likely going to be longer for you than someone on it for months. In general, the longer you take Lexapro, the more intense the withdrawal process.

2. Dosage (10 mg to 20 mg)

Most people take anywhere from 10 mg to 20 mg of Lexapro. The recommended starting dose is 10 mg, but for some people this isn’t quite strong enough. Therefore most doctors continue increasing the dose to achieve the desired effect. Doses tend to increase up to 20 mg, and then it is up to the patient and doctor whether 20 mg needs to be exceeded. Keep in mind that the higher the dose you are on, the greater the difficulty of the withdrawal process.

3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

It is never recommended to quit Lexapro “cold turkey.” Although some have done it, quitting cold turkey leaves your brain in a state of chemical disarray. Some people do not have the patience to taper because they feel so crappy on the drug. If you are able to taper, try to work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dosage. The higher the dose you are on, the longer the tapering process should be.

4. Individual Physiology

To a lesser degree than the other factors, your individual physiology will play a role in determining how quickly you bounce back from the discontinuation symptoms. Some people find that they feel normal within a few months of quitting the drug, while others find that it takes months to start feeling a little bit better. Everyone responds differently and heals at a different pace.

Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Below are some symptoms that you may experience when you stop taking Lexapro. This is a collective of some common symptoms that people experience when they withdraw from this drug. You may only experience some of the symptoms listed below, but in any event, it is better to be mentally prepared for what you may experience so that you don’t become overwhelmed.

  • Anxiety: Most people will experience anxiety to a significant degree when stopping Lexapro. This is a drug that inhibits the reuptake of serotonin. If you have been taking it for an extended period of time and discontinue, your serotonin levels are likely lower than average – causing severe anxiety.  This is because your brain had become reliant upon the drug to increase serotonin and is no longer receiving it.
  • Appetite changes: You may experience changes in appetite when you first quit taking this drug. Some people notice that they aren’t quite as hungry and/or aren’t eating as much, while others regain appetite. Usually changes in appetite are opposite to your experience while on the drug.
  • Brain Zaps: It is common to experience “brain zaps” or sensations of electrical shocks throughout your brain when you stop taking Lexapro.  This is a common symptom that occurs when withdrawing from many different antidepressants.  These usually subside within a few weeks.
  • Concentration problems: One thing that most doctors will not tell you is that your concentration may be extremely poor during withdrawal. You are experiencing a ton of withdrawal symptoms which naturally detract from concentration, but the neurotransmitter levels are imbalanced – creating a state of brain fog.
  • Depersonalization: This involves feeling unlike your natural self. Most people feel depersonalized and when they try to describe it to someone else, the other person may just not understand what they mean. It can feel as though all natural emotions have been sucked out of the body and the person is lifeless. The emotions will eventually return as the person stays off of SSRI’s for awhile.
  • Depression: It is common to experience “rebound depression” when you quit taking Lexapro. It is a drug that was created to treat depression, so when you stop it, the depression will likely return. Many people notice that their depression is actually worse when they stop this drug – this is because the brain has become even more chemically imbalanced after taking this drug.
  • Dizziness: Many people report feeling dizziness, in some cases to the point of having “balance” issues. This dizziness can last for an extended period of time and may make life difficult to deal with. Recognize that this is a result of your brain trying to cope without stimulation from the drug.
  • Eye floaters: Some people report seeing “floaters” when they come off of Lexapro. Floaters are small shapes that “float” in and out of your field of vision. These are harmless and do not indicate that anything is wrong with your vision. Do your best not to panic and think that you are doomed if you see these.
  • Fatigue: It is very common to notice that you feel excessively tired throughout the day. The lethargy, tiredness, and fatigue may become so difficult, that you think it’s never going to end. This is likely due to your brain trying to restore itself to homeostasis.
  • Headaches: This is another extremely common symptom to experience when you withdraw from any drug – especially SSRI’s. If headaches are intense, do your best to relax – as many can be caused by tension. Also make sure that you are drinking plenty of water and consider taking headache relief medication if they become too difficult to deal with.
  • Insomnia: Some people are unable to fall asleep at night when they first stop Lexapro. This is usually a result of sleep pattern changes and increased anxiety. Some people find that taking a little melatonin supplement helps.
  • Irritability: If you are becoming increasingly irritable, do your best to control it without lashing out on others. It can be extremely difficult to control yourself when you feel as crappy as you do, but keep trying.
  • Libido changes: Most people notice that their sex life improves when they stop taking antidepressants. Lexapro is known to cause delayed orgasm and in some cases, inability to orgasm. When you stop taking this drug, your sex life should bounce back.
  • Mood swings: It is common to experience crazy mood swings when quitting this drug. One minute you may feel as though you’re going to recover and the next you may feel as if there is no hope. People may notice that you are acting especially irritable and angry. Realize that you don’t have much control over these during withdrawal.
  • Nausea: It is common to feel nauseated when you first stop taking an antidepressant. In some cases it may lead to vomiting. Do your best to deal with it and understand that it will go away.
  • Suicidal thoughts: When coming off of SSRI’s like Lexapo, it is very common to feel suicidal and experience suicidal thoughts. Although you may have felt suicidal before going on this drug, the intensity of these thoughts will likely be higher when you withdraw.
  • Sweating: Many people sweat more than average during the withdrawal period. You may sweat more than usual throughout the day and/or notice that you sweat excessively during your sleep.
  • Weight changes: Most people experience some degree of weight gain on Lexapro and other SSRI’s. When they come off of the drug, they may notice that they experience weight loss.

How long does Lexapro withdrawal last?

It really depends on a number of different factors including how long you’ve been on the drug and the dosage that you were taking. If you conducted a gradual taper, the symptoms that you experience during withdrawal may be less intense and last for a shorter duration than if you quit cold turkey. Unfortunately there is no exact timeline for determining how long you are going to experience withdrawal symptoms. It is important to recognize that most withdrawal symptoms persist for much longer than professionals think.

I have taken Lexapro and know that the withdrawal process is certainly not as trivial as most people make it out to be. If you withdraw from this medication, you can expect to experience some discontinuation symptoms. These symptoms may only last a few weeks, but in many cases they end up lasting months after the person has taken the last dose of their drug. I would suggest that if you used Lexapro for a year, used 90 days (i.e. 3 months) as a checkpoint.

Most people notice that their severe discontinuation symptoms tend to subside after about 90 days. If yours continue to persist beyond 90 days, just know that it’s most likely that your brain is still in disarray after SSRI usage for an extended period of time. One individual reported that he never fully returned to feeling like “himself” until 48 months had passed (4 years). Although most people will feel “normal” before a three year term, it is important to recognize that withdrawal effects can last months and in some cases, it takes over a year to fully recover.

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{ 586 comments… add one }
  • Kaylah March 30, 2018, 2:55 am

    Well I tried quitting cold turkey. It’s been four days and the brain zaps and dizziness was so bad that I took another 20mg. My doctor recommended I skip every third day but I struggle remembering when to take meds. This is my third time to be on Lexapro. The last two times I only took during postpartum pregnancy for a few months.

    This last time I started during postpartum but life situations were so stressful I increased from 10mg to 20mg. Recently stress has increased dramatically and my doctor approved tapering. She recommended fish oil and magnesium, both help. Unfortunately this week as I did not take my lexapro doses, I forgot the fish oil and magnesium – so symptoms are strong.

    I did not realize just how many symptoms I had until reading posts. I am irritable and emotional (but I am happy to feel emotions). My husband prefers I stay on the medicine but I prefer to be off. I have found that praying, exercising, and a spa day are nice alternatives to dealing with my anxiety.

    But the withdrawals I will just have to deal with until they subside. Thanks for all the support. I’m relieved that I am not alone. Just wanted to note, before realizing brain zaps had a name, I described it to a friend as my lips feeling numb and then a pulsating heartbeat in my lips.

    Then it happened in my brain and vision. Electric current was the right description. Just wanted to mention that in case it helps someone else identify a weird symptom.

  • Chris March 30, 2018, 12:37 am

    HELP FOR THOSE OF YOU WEANING OR STOPPING COLD TURKEY FROM LEXAPRO. I have been on and off Lexapro for years. I have always tapered slowly and still experienced very uncomfortable side effects. I shared this with a couple of people as a reply to their posts asking for suggestions.

    Below is what I wrote in two previous points about where I am in this process which I hope may help some of you:

    I went off Lexapro cold turkey almost 3 weeks ago. I have done this in the past and it is terrible. This time, however, I switched over to Sam-e right away and it has helped a lot! I am taking 200 mg per day.

    I still have withdrawal symptoms from Lexapro (dizziness and irritability), but not near as bad as in the past. I was on Lexapro for years for general anxiety disorder. I recently went off and am using Sam-e. It is surprisingly effective. I have energy, low anxiety, and my senses are awakened again.

    I know others who are finding good success with it as well. Lexapro worked well for me, but dulled my emotions and senses. After researching treatments for a family member who has Fibromyalgia, I read article after article how Sam-e is used in Europe where they actually give out prescriptions b/c it works better than SSRIs for many people.

    I am a stickler for research-based data and Sam-e has had good results in enough studies for me to try it. I am taking 200 mg per day each morning which is a common recommended starting dose, but do your own research. You may have to adjust it until you find what works for you. Hope this helps :)

  • Denise March 27, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Was on lexapro for 7 years. Off it almost a year now and am having major anxiety. Any suggestions how to deal – and has this happened to anyone else? Should I just push through? And does fish oil help? Thanks.

    • Chris March 30, 2018, 12:24 am

      I, too, was on Lexapro for years for general anxiety disorder. I recently went off and am using Sam-e. It is surprisingly effective. I have energy, low anxiety, and my senses are awakened again. I know others who are finding good success with it as well.

      Lexapro worked well for me, but dulled my emotions and senses. After researching treatments for a family member who has Fibromyalgia, I read article after article how Sam-e is used in Europe where they actually give out prescriptions b/c it works better than SSRIs for many people.

      I am a stickler for research-based data and Sam-e has had good results in enough studies for me to try it. I am taking 200 mg per day each morning which is a common recommended starting dose, but do your own research. You may have to adjust it until you find what works for you. Hope this helps :)

    • Kaylah March 30, 2018, 3:00 am

      I think fish oil and magnesium help. There is even magnesium for brain support.

  • Samantha March 26, 2018, 10:26 am

    I started taking lexapro 20mg then we went to 40mg. I have bipolar and severe anxiety. I take geodon for bipolar, forfivo (Wellbutrin) for depression, and newly added Buspar for anxiety. Along with my 40mg of lexapro. I recently found out that lexapro could cause a drug interaction with my other medications.

    So I quit cold turkey, I now feel terrible. I’m cranky all the time, I can’t hold anything down, even water is hard to keep down. I am so lost, do I start taking lexapro again and forget about it interacting with my other meds!? I just feel so terrible.

    • Mama Rose April 9, 2018, 7:39 pm

      Our son was bi-polar and on multiple meds for depression, anxiety, psoriasis, arthritis, etc. If I had him back again I would want him to go to some place like Mayo, locked up and off all meds until he completely detoxed. After reading these posts I’m thinking it would take months or even years.

      One other thing, make sure your psychiatrist knows all the meds you’re taking. Do whatever necessary to stay off alcohol and drugs (AA everyday) and pray a lot.

  • AT March 5, 2018, 11:52 pm

    I was prescribed lexapro for generalized anxiety disorder. I was on the lowest dose for 9 months and have tapered off completely, after two weeks of taking half of a pill. I am on day 7 of not taking pills at all and I feel absolutely horrible.

    At first I felt great but the past 4 days I have had a crazy amount of brain zaps, irritability, profusely sweating and today day 7 I flat out feel like I have the flu. Achey and with a headache.

    Any suggestions to curb these withdrawal symptoms? Natural remedies to curb these symptoms? I was only on it for 9 months, how long should I expect to feel this way? This sucks, I see why people stay on it for long periods of time because the detox aspect is horrendous.

    • IMR March 8, 2018, 9:35 pm

      AT, I don’t know how long your symptoms will last. However, as a licensed therapist, I would tell you to not give up. It’ll be worth it in the end. You can try natural things like passion flower, chamomile, they have natural calming properties. Use coping skills, cognitive behavior exercises, physical exercise also naturally helps produce dopamine and serotonin. Wishing you the best.

    • P March 12, 2018, 4:48 pm

      I can relate. I’ve been on the generic Lexapro for GAD for somewhere around 2.5 to 3 years until this past January. I was having increasingly bad anxiety, constantly feeling overwhelmed, and anhedonia. I was laid off a few months after buying my first house and then my mother passed away suddenly (my only immediate family member), so none of us knew to what extent the Lexapro was helping.

      My psychiatrist said I didn’t have GAD; instead, I have C-PTSD and ADHD, so he added Adderall and Wellbutrin, and I tapered off of Lexapro over two weeks or so. I’ve never been an overly emotional person (my family was the stiff upper lip type, though I tend to be overly empathetic), but now I constantly feel irritable and panicky, well up with tears at very strange things, or feel like a void of a human being with enough despair to swallow worlds.

      The “put on your At-Work Face” facade is starting to crack, too, so I hope I am getting toward the end of this. My psychiatrist stresses that I shouldn’t attribute symptoms to the medications, but easier said than done. I am just reading these withdrawal outlines hoping that that is all this is, because if this is my “new normal”, I am in a heap of trouble. But I wish you the best of luck.

    • Chris March 30, 2018, 12:29 am

      In addition to the response I wrote to someone else in this forum (see below), I went off Lexapro cold turkey almost 3 weeks ago. I have done this in the past and it is terrible. This time, however, I switched over to Sam-e right away and it has helped a lot! I am taking 200 mg. per day. I still have withdrawal symptoms from Lexapro (dizziness and irritability), but not nearly as bad as in the past.

  • Student February 27, 2018, 8:10 pm

    I was on 10mg of Lexapro for about 1 year and 4 months. Stopped cold turkey two weeks ago and it has turned my life upside down. My story is long so it is below if it will help anyone feel less alone. Thanks :)
    ———————————————————-
    In college, I was having an very hard time with panic attacks (at it’s worst, at least 2-3 times a week). I finally ran out of options and was able to get started with Lexapro after 3 years of somehow getting by with them. It was like magic and suddenly they were completely gone. My libido became nonexistent and I had very weird, very vivid dreams every night but I didn’t have a care in the world because it gave me my life back.

    I didn’t feel like a zombie or like I was in lala land, I just felt like myself and I was really happy! I still had some issues with anxiety and depression but to me, those paled in comparison to panicking so I just dealt with it on my own. I don’t like taking any kind of drugs, so I asked the school psychiatrist a lot of questions before starting. Apparently, if I found I didn’t need it anymore, I could just stop taking it and it would be fine (spoiler: not fine).

    I have just finished with my classes two months ago and started a full time job last month. Since I would not be able to see the school doctor anymore, he prescribed me three refills and said I could continue after that with a new doctor in my area if I needed. I decided I really didn’t need it anymore–I am in a completely different world from when I first started having panic attacks.

    I picked up the last bottle two weeks ago but did not take any. I just kept the bottle in case I truly did need it and needed a buffer before I was able to find a doctor to re-prescribe. No issues at all with feeling panicky, which was awesome! I felt normal and was feeling like for the first time in my life, everything was going to be okay.

    For as long as I can remember, I have had issues with fatigue, sleepiness, feeling light-headed, etc. I’m not sure if maybe this is why stopping completely knocked me out. Less than a week after stopping, I had no energy at all. The fatigue is very intense and all the muscles in my body ache like I’ve just done a marathon the day before.

    My head feels very heavy and dizzy and it seems like my eyes lag behind when I turn my head (not sure how to describe, maybe something like when you are drunk) and everything is in slow motion. I generally feel confused and forgetful. Lots of nausea and loss of appetite, some diarrhea. Some issues with sleeping, but manageable.

    Mood is sometimes a little odd, like I’ll get really ticked off when playing a game or choked up and teary watching a show (generally I am cool as a cucumber, even without the SSRIs haha). I have been very sensitive to light and sound (mostly just can’t wear headphones for too long). My body temperature is really inconsistent and my two modes now are either “on fire” or “popsicle.”

    But the most bizarre and annoying is the tinnitus. It’s been the most persistent symptom. Whenever I move my eyes, the pitch of the ring changes (also not sure how to describe well). Generally…I just feel like I’ve been hit by a truck all the time. It did not even occur to me that the cause of all this was because of withdrawal.

    I thought it was my usual issues of fatigue getting more intense because I was starting my first full-time job. I only figured out this was the issue after I happened to read something today about another person having my exact weird tinnitus issue after stopping Lexapro, then started furiously googling if it was possible to have withdrawal from stopping this medicine.

    I am really disappointed that my doctor never mentioned any of this. After seeing how many people have left comments on this site alone, how could he have just vaguely guaranteed that I would “be fine?” I have been trying to get in contact with him these past couple of weeks with no answer. I am visiting a doctor in my new area tomorrow who can hopefully point me in the right direction.

    It has been insane trying to hold down a new job and living in a new area away from family, friends, and my loved one while all of this is going on. But I know it’s not forever, so for now it’s just going to be a little rough (maybe little is an understatement…but I must be positive!!). At the very least I’m extremely thankful that my co-workers understand and support me and that I am in a position where I can work from home sometimes if needed.

    Also despite my slew of issues, I don’t know what these brain zaps are that a lot of others are referring to (hopefully I will never know..!!). Things like this affect everyone differently so please rest assured that you are not “going crazy.” Best of luck to all out there dealing with a mess left behind by Lexapro.

    • Mary March 10, 2018, 1:58 pm

      Thank you for your input. I am off the drug three days now after a six week taper. I’m not getting the brain zaps but have the annoying tinnitus and feeling in general like I’ve been hit by a truck then he backed up and ran over me again in reverse. The other symptom is I feel very numb all over -don’t now how else to describe it. Amazing that you’re doing this while starting a new life. Please keep us posted. Best wishes.

  • Mirjam February 20, 2018, 1:43 pm

    2016 Christmas I worked really hard and, barely got any sleep (like 4-5 hours a day) for a month and on one night after smoking a cigarette I felt that I’m going to collapse, sitting down behind computer. Suddenly everything started going dark and spinning. I panicked and stood up, barely able to walk, heart pounding etc. Did not call doctor.

    But then panic attacks started to happen. Just felt weird/dizzy/collapsing at random places. Called ambulance for multiple times, did all kind of tests (MRI, stress tests etc) all was fine. Then doctor prescribed me escitalopram, we tapered it up from 2.5mg to 20mg and I was on it for 6 months. Panic attacks subsided, I was very calm and enjoyed life, but then I started not to feel like myself, depersonalization, feeling numb etc.

    No emotions, just being like a plant. I functioned normally, but I was just numb and did not want to continue. So we decided we start tampering down. went from 15-10-5-2.5 in 2 months. Now I’m off completely for 4 days and I’m having body zaps, feeling ‘good’ like I have eaten some MDMA without the ‘high’, but just ‘body high’.

    I think the symptoms are slowly subsiding. I feel that laying down and reading/playing computer games helps to distract. I hope You all are better already, and whoever reads this, don’t lose hope – Your brain is just compensating because it’s used to be with serotonin not being reuptaken so quickly, side effects will go away in time for sure.

    They can be replaced by ‘psychosomatic’ symptoms, which occur when you listen your body too much. I suggest get some therapy, talk it through and try some coping exercises. For me one thing was to measure my heart rate constantly, I did it like 20-30 times a day.

    If you find out what thought pattern you have that constantly takes you to listen your body or come back to the panic/worry, it is easier to train yourself to get rid of it. It takes effort, but in the end YOU are in control of your body and thoughts.

    • Mirjam February 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

      So a little update – it’s been exactly 1 week and I feel much better already, some mild zaps, but they are subsiding. I read somewhere that it takes around 7-10 days to get the escitalopram (celexa, etc) totally out from your system.

      • Mark February 27, 2018, 4:18 am

        Hello. I just went cold turkey off 20mg of Lexapro. I know this isn’t very smart thing to do but I had just enough of this drug. I’ve been taking it for around nine months and it did help me to feel better.

        I suffered from severe anxiety, depression and panic attacks. But this drug totally destroyed my libido. Well I just had to quit it. Sorry for my broken English (I’m in the process of learning it).

  • Diana Shelton February 18, 2018, 1:23 am

    My doc took me from 20mg to 10mg in a week to 5mg in a week to none. My last dose was Wednesday (2/14/18) & since last night I’ve been dizzy & having the brain zaps (which I’d felt before but never knew had a name).

    She had to take me off since I was in a hypomanic episode (that started mid January) & she was concerned the Lexapro could be triggering since apparently anti-depressants can trigger mania (FUN).

    I know the tapering didn’t last long enough but I was in a crisis which we’re still managing. Anyway, my mood is much more stable on the new med but I’m hating these withdrawal symptoms. I just needed a place to vent. Thanks for listening.

  • Jessica February 13, 2018, 1:38 am

    I have been off Lexapro 10mg for a month or a little more. I weaned from 10 to 5 to 2.5 to nothing. I am getting horrible headaches almost daily. Has anyone else experienced this after being off a month?

    • Liz February 21, 2018, 5:19 am

      I actually was on lex 10mg for over 8 months and this was in 2008. I tapered off the lex but ever since I have been off them I get migraines pretty much every other day. Never had a migraine prior to the lex. Unfortunately, I have to carry Excedrin migraine everywhere just in case one happens. If I don’t take anything at onset of symptoms, I am screwed.

  • chris February 10, 2018, 8:45 am

    The comments are so supportive in that I am not alone. I’d been on Lexapro 10mg for 16 years and a year ago decided to tapper down and stop. Sadly I did not realize it was that straight forward and had to go back on to it. In Dec 2017 after a 7 month sailing adventure I tapered off it again and 10 days ago finally stopped.

    What a mess. I cry at the drop of a hat, feel lethargic, have brain fog, feel depressed and have anxiety now and again. A psychologist friend is quite concerned for my well being so I saw a doctor, and his immediate suggestion was go straight back onto 10mg Lexapro and see him next week for a Mental Health plan (10 free visits to a psychologist) that’s if I can see/find one quick enough other than my friend.

    All this while trying to hold down a new job. I’ve nearly had enough. I want off this drug so I’ll just keep trying to hold it together. In a way I see the only winner is the drug manufacturer.

    • Sara February 12, 2018, 8:07 pm

      Chris, your story is very similar to mine. I have been OFF of Lexapro, successfully, for over a year. I highly suggest trying out fish oil. It supports brain health. It stops the nasty withdrawals and has really helped me a lot. I still have those bouts of crying for no reason, but they have gone from daily to monthly.

      It took me over a year of research to find that this may help, and it did. No doctor would tell me that, because they don’t get anything from me stopping pharmaceuticals and basically stopping monthly visits to them for help. Doctors only want to push pills. They don’t want to get to the root of the issue, which is an imbalance in your brain.

      When I started, I took a double dose of fish oil every morning. If I felt bad, Id take more in the middle of the day. Now, I am down to a normal dose in the morning with my other vitamins and I am pharmaceutical free and honestly happier than I have ever been. I wish you luck.

      • Cynthia March 19, 2018, 8:11 pm

        Well it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I have all the symptoms except brain freeze, thank goodness. I took Lexapro for 4 & 1/2 years. I’ve been slowly withdrawing from 20 milligrams to 0.25. Two weeks ago I stopped all together. Wow, the nausea is unbelievable. Hot flashes, night sweats, weeping because a leaf fell of my tree (not really but close).

        I told my sister about my withdrawals and she is debating when she’ll stop taking hers. She and I both feel like this whole process is like a comical tragedy. Good luck, and take care. This too shall end, like passing a kidney stone.

    • Meechie February 18, 2018, 2:38 pm

      Hi Chris, I definitely feel your pain. This will be a long read but well worth the time. I, too, was on 10 mg. Lexapro for 16-17 years. I started taking at the recommendation of my doctor to help me cope with the difficulties in dealing with two aging parents (one of which was bipolar and had borderline personality). He told me that there were few to no side effects with Lexapro.

      Surprise! We decided to move near Charleston, SC last year from Atlanta, GA because we are at a point in our lives where we can. I found a new primary care doctor here who discovered that I had low blood sodium which is not a good thing. After some thought he decided that the Lexapro might be the culprit since SSRI’s are known to create this issue in some users.

      So I tapered off in October 2017 for 2 weeks until I was taking none. I actually felt pretty good and we decided that my depression and anxiety from before were probably situational. Over the next month or two I experienced some major physical changes. Number one being that I no longer had chronic diarrhea. It was uncontrollable and for most of those I had a high powered job.

      I have seen four different GI doctors in the past 15 years and have been treated for microscopic colitis, IBSD, and pancreatic insufficiency. None of the doctors ever questioned any of my medications. I had none of those conditions and I was unable to tolerate most of the drugs prescribed for treatment.

      The last doctor I saw said that he thought I had low pancreatic enzymes due to the fact that I had an attack of acute pancreatitis when I was 25. He began treating me with Creon two years ago, two at each meal and one with a snack. Seven capsules each day. One month’s supply was $2,100 and my copay with Medicare was $900/mo until I reached catastrophic coverage.

      After being off Lexapro for four months now I am more normal that I have been in years. No more diarrhea or Creon and my blood sodium came back normal and all was good. Until… I had no idea that I would have any more difficulties coming off the Lexapro since I was four months out. I did notice some issues over the past few months; lethargy, insomnia, severe muscle cramps, itching, irritability, anxiety, crying spells and sleeping a lot during the day.

      Then the day came a few weeks ago when I thought I was losing my mind. My mind was no longer my own and I had no control over my thoughts or the depression. I can now understand why addicts relapse. I would have done anything to make those thoughts disappear.

      I saw my doctor that day and cried during the entire visit. He suggested some new meds and I discovered within 24 hr. that I could not tolerate them. I am Type 1 diabetic and one of the drugs effected my BG levels worse than steroids. I was a zombie. I was not going down that path.

      I turned to the internet and discovered other former users who had experienced this same misery. Sometimes 6-12 months after discontinuing. I am almost back to what is normal for me and saving thousands of dollars per year on drug costs. I will always look back on the last few months as the worst time of my life. Worse than three abdominal surgeries, child birth and menopause.

      When you reach a point that you have no control over your mind you are in big trouble. If you don’t absolutely need an antidepressant for a mental condition, don’t do it unless you plan to take it for the remainder of your life. My best wishes to you as you venture down this road. If I can do it, you can, too, but it is not EASY. Meechie

  • Sara December 14, 2017, 8:00 pm

    I commented here a while back, when I was having trouble coming off of Lexapro. I was on it for years. I lost my insurance and decided to take the plunge and get off of Lexapro. I had a lot left, so I tapered myself off of it from 20mg all the way to about 2mg in a year.

    Then for a while, when I started having the zaps (about once every week or two) I would take a tiny piece and take a nap. Once I woke up, I was OK. With the advice here and elsewhere, I was able to successfully stop taking Lexapro AND stop the awful zaps.

    How I did this was with fish oil! There isn’t a lot of information out there on how this works, but it really does and I can say it has saved my life! I started by taking double the dose of fish oil, daily. IF I had the zaps, I would take two more and they would go away within an hour. In a month or so, I stopped having the zaps COMPLETELY.

    I have been taking the recommended dose of fish oil now for a few months and have had zero issues and I am happy! Fish oil is so great for our brains. It helps regulate serotonin, and has many other benefits. I am not a professional, but this worked for me and I really hope it will work for others.

    • Denise April 5, 2018, 7:28 pm

      Sara – How much fish oil do you take? I stopped lexapro about 10 months ago was on it for 8 years and am now having anxiety again. I have read that this can happen. Wondering if anyone else had this problem? Denise

  • Tammy June 8, 2017, 4:47 pm

    I have been weaning off Lexapro and have been completely off for only 3 days now. I have been experiencing all of the symptoms you all have been experiencing. The reason why I went off is because of my eyes. I also experienced floaters which I thought was just an eye problem. Then I was having such eye pain behind my eyes, and then double vision.

    I couldn’t focus on anything without seeing double. My medical doctor recommended I see an eye doctor. After being examined by an eye doctor and then a specialist who told me my eyes are good and there is nothing wrong with them. Then I started looking for other reasons why I was experiencing eye problems.

    I took a look at my medications and found that Lexapro could be causing this. Since I have been tapering off and now am completely off, the eye pain is gone, and double vision is less. I am hoping the double vision will be completely gone soon. I am frustrated with my medical doctor saying it is an eye problem without even considering it may be medication related.

    This was 3 years ago I started with the eye problems. Just wanted to throw this out there in case anyone else is experiencing the same symptoms. Hang in there everyone!

  • Candace March 21, 2017, 1:17 am

    I can relate to most of these comments. I’ve been on lexapro for 7 years now, 20mg. I have to say so far it has worked out great for me. I did gain 15 lbs but I can’t say that is because of lexapro. Only problem is I am off of it all too much. Sometimes I forget to call in my prescription in a timely manner. So I end up going through withdrawal for a few days until my Dr calls the pharmacy.

    Yes it’s my responsibility to keep up with the prescriptions so this doesn’t happen but my Dr doesn’t seem to care. I go through hell and he takes his sweet old time to order me a refill. He’s gotta know the withdrawal is awful!!! As of today I’ve been off of it for about 3 days and my life is a revolving door of hellish withdrawal symptoms! And I’ve been calling my Dr almost constantly and nothing in return!

  • Neil March 3, 2017, 10:28 am

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. In my opinion SSRIs are wonderful drugs to get you over short-term issues, but not a long-term solution. At some stage the situation that causes anxiety changes or you should make life changes. I have taken Lexapro three times in my life. Last time I took the doctors recommended suggestion of 10 mg and followed a regime to cease use. My feeling is that this is absolutely required for this does.

    This time I insisted that I only wanted to take 5 mg. I have taken this for around 2 & 1/5 years. I have ceased taking my medication 2 weeks ago, ‘cold turkey’. I have been trying to lose weight and not getting down as much as I would like, and weight gain from SSRIs is well documented – if not well understood.

    I thought I’d see what happened and whether I required a taper off period. After 14 days it’s going really well. I am getting the classic ‘brain zap’ and initially some insomnia, but am feeling so much more energetic, creative and alive. I know the ‘brain zap’ can be a bit scary for some, but as long as you know to expect it and that it is common it’s something that you will get used to.

    If you are getting a whole bunch of withdrawal effects then you really need to work with your physician. When I commenced treatment I was suffering quite strong anxiety (30 on the K10 scale) and it felt like a weight was removed from me and colours became vivid again. It’s funny that I am getting positive feelings now from *not* taking Lexapro. I guess that shows it is time to cease use.

    The message I would like to pass on is that there are lots of very good reasons to commence treatment. Don’t feel bad that you started! But unless you are experiencing severe psychological disturbance there is also a time to cease use. If you think it is time to cease use, then it probably is time to cease use – not to mention if you are having other issues from taking the drug. For most of us SSRIs are a useful circuit breaker but not a lifetime solution.

  • Mark February 18, 2017, 3:47 am

    Hello Friends. I am just another former Lexapro user who Googled withdrawal symptoms due to my severe symptoms. I was on 20mg for 4 years and decided to wean myself off it after removing myself from my former stressful life situation. Of course like most of you, I started panicking a bit when the withdrawal symptoms started rearing It’s ugly head.

    I went off Lexapro on my own without consulting my doctor. I gradually reduced my dose over a month until I was completely free from it. Without my doctor’s guidance, I did not know there would be such severe side effects. The “brain shocks” were the most severe and scary for the first two weeks.

    They since have almost completely gone away. Now a month in, I am really struggling with irritability and clumsiness. I immediately started noticing that I do miss Lexapro’s ability to “take the edge off” stressful encounters. Now I seem to get pissed off at even the most minor things like if someone does something stupid while driving near me or if someone is rude to me at a store.

    I feel an inner rage and want to explode. Lexapro really helped me with these feelings where I just didn’t care. Now everything seems to bother me. Additionally, I feel less social and want to be alone. I don’t know why I feel this way, but I just feel safer with myself.

    Does anyone else feel this way? Anyway, thanks for listening to my rambling. I am just staying the course hoping all these side effects continue to subside. Thank you all for sharing your experiences… it really helps knowing we aren’t alone.

    • Jen March 2, 2018, 6:36 am

      Omg, I have been off Lex for about 2 months… I’m a school bus driver and MAN I cannnnnot handle it! Just like you said. 😂 Road rage, anger and irritability, crying at almost everything. Anxiety keeps me awake… what a ride. I hope it tapers in a few months. It makes me miss feeling like a zombie lol. Xo good luck.

    • Jericho March 18, 2018, 3:23 pm

      I was on lexapro for about 7.5 months give or take a week or two. I started 5mg and gradually built up to 20mg after maybe five months. When I stopped I went to 15 for two weeks, 10 for a week and then five for a week and quit.

      I am about 7 weeks post quitting and it has been hard. Cold clammy sweaty hands at work, dread, worse GERD, and putting weight back on.

      I lost about five pounds on it but have gained it back. Very active in gym so have not gained any more than I had before. I need some kind of drug to control my mind but I don’t think SSRI’s are it. I will soldier on. That is all I can do.

  • Martin February 17, 2017, 1:53 pm

    I have been on Escitalopram 10MG for around 7 months due to anxiety attacks. I recently discussed with my PCP that I wanted to get off of it because I had the feeling to have overcome my anxiety. Bad decision! I quit cold turkey and on day 3 I began feeling dizzy, weak, fatigue and have brain zaps almost constantly throughout the day when moving around.

    On the good side, I dream a lot (and really a lot every night) again since getting off of it. After talking to the Nurse, my MD prescribed 5mg again. I don’t want to go back to the full dose but will be traveling the next weeks and can’t deal with the withdrawal symptoms at this time. I’ll be picking up the 5mg today and reporting about the outcome.

  • Ashby February 17, 2017, 12:57 am

    Coming off after 9 months at 10mg. Have all the problems mentioned in the posts, especially fatigue, short term memory loss, weight loss (a good thing) and better libido! Does anyone find that exercise helps withdrawal? Though dead tired during the day, I force myself to jog, putting in my customary 30-35 miles a week. During the run the fatigue certainly subsides but returns almost as soon as I’m done.

  • HaveFaith February 14, 2017, 7:37 pm

    Had a panic or anxiety attack while scrambling eggs. LOL. Who knows why, but about a month prior my daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes type 1 after she almost died in the hospital. In the same year my job was eliminated and my mother was fighting cancer – therefore, it was a stressful year.

    I am told by my psychologist that this attack was a delayed reaction to all the stress. After the attack, I Googled my symptoms (please don’t ever do this). The internet told me I may be going crazy so I thought wow could this be happening? And there comes the 24/7 anxiety that I could not shake after that. I finally had to go on Ativan, then Lexapro.

    After two months of meds and a reacquainted relationship with God, I decided to trust God and stop taking Lex. I self-weaned by going from 10 to 5 to 2.5 to none during a 2 week time frame. My symptoms were: tingling in legs, lightheadedness, spurts of anxiety caused by fear of losing mind or intrusive thoughts (never about taking my life though), burping, and blurred vision.

    Every time I wanted to pop an Ativan, I prayed instead. I know this may not work for everyone, but if you believe in God, cast your cares on Him. Every time I pray, my anxiety lessens. It’s been 3 weeks and I still have all the same symptoms, mostly every day besides anxiety. Anxiety comes and goes quickly, sometimes if bad lasts a day or two.

    Helping to always remind myself that these are withdrawal issues, helps the anxiety go away, too. I’m 44 and have never experienced depression, I love my life. Anxiety sucks though. Also, read up on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Prayers for you all, you’re not alone, you are beloved. He walks in the fire beside you, God bless.

  • Lisa February 1, 2017, 10:47 pm

    After 12 years on Lexapro, I have quit cold turkey. Not because I wanted to, I know better than to do anything cold turkey. I don’t have insurance anymore and when I went to get Rx filled, they wanted over $150 to have it filled without insurance. There is no way I was going to pay that much, even if I had the money!

    Well, let’s be honest, I probably would have if I could afford it. So, it’s been over two weeks since I have taken any Lexapro and boy am I tired! Oh, crap, I just realized I quit my job… but I haven’t been really happy with it for a few months, too much stress.

    So far I think the only side effect has been lack of energy unless no one has mentioned that I am a complete mess. Let’s see how it goes, wish me luck. Okay so I just finished posting that I have no side effects from quitting Lexapro cold turkey except lack of energy.

    After my post I sat on the couch and was eating leftovers and crying during a commercial. So, I forgot to mention that I have been crying a lot and eating a lot as well. This is ridiculous.

  • Katie January 31, 2017, 5:23 am

    I had been on Lexapro 10mg for about 6 months and quit cold turkey about a month ago because of weight gain. I gained about 20lbs in those six months and it started to make me feel depressed. I personally have had NO withdrawal effects (yet) and I have been off of it for a little over the month. It seems like the weight I have gained is impossible to get off.

  • Hopeful January 25, 2017, 9:40 pm

    Update #3: If you saw my above posts I have been tapering down from 10mg. 3 months at 9mg, then 3 months at 8mg. My doctor agrees with slow tapering. However I have now been on 8mg for 6 months, unable to take the step down to 7mg. My symptoms were so bad when first reducing to 8mg that I can’t contemplate experiencing them at this particular time in my life. My goal is 5 mg. I hope to get there eventually. So… I have a prescription for 8mg for another 3 months. I am still taking 2400mg of Omega 3-6-9 and 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. No weight loss :(

  • Cathy January 24, 2017, 4:16 am

    I was on Lexapro for 15 years. The withdrawal has been tough but I agree with those who have found that high quality supplements help tremendously. I found a nutrition system (after a desperate prayer) that has changed my life and now that of family members and friends.

    It puts superior nutrition into you, takes toxins out and gets the PH balance of your gut to a better state. I also use a magnesium cream on the bottoms of my feet when I go to bed and a sleep spray that you spray under your tongue (is better absorbed by the body that way) which has melatonin, valerian and more in it. I am still feeling withdrawal symptoms but nothing like what some have described.

    The system I use and supplements I take are expensive and high quality but its worth it – your body doesn’t absorb cheap stuff very well and the cheap stuff often comes with toxins and crap in them.

  • Missymom January 22, 2017, 1:58 am

    My prescription for Lexapro expired the first of January, so I am trying to go cold turkey (with a little help from Ativan), as I am unemployed and can’t afford to get a new RX. It’s been 21 days and it’s starting to get harder. The night sweats are annoying, and the sudden bouts of tears have caused a few awkward moments but I really want to make this. So long as my family doesn’t fuss too much when I turn the air conditioning on in the middle of the night, I think I’ll be alright. I am so glad I found this site. I thought I was losing my mind again.

    • Anet February 8, 2017, 3:29 am

      Hang in there Missymom!!! I agree the sudden bouts of tears can be awkward, especially when you are just listening to a conference call for work, LOL and someone calls on you. I am glad I found this site too. I think I would have given up and got back on the meds by now.

  • Rachelle January 16, 2017, 3:42 pm

    Hey folks, I just wanted to add an update. My withdrawal symptoms are almost gone after about 2-3 months now. I still get tired, but I blame that on the depression. I am lucky to have an amazing GP who keeps up on studies of natural remedies for people like me who don’t like taking mind altering drugs.

    Saint John’s Wort for insomnia has been amazing for me the last month. Evening Primrose oil for us females to balance our hormones. And Omega 3’s :)

    Besides learning to live with anxiety again, I feel great. SO MUCH BETTER then when I was a medicated zombie with no feelings or libido. Good luck everyone! You got this! XOXOXO

    • Anet January 26, 2017, 12:59 am

      Rachelle, how long were you taking the meds?

      • Rachelle January 26, 2017, 2:02 pm

        Hey Anet, close to 3 years. Also just started with a new therapist, which I am confident is going to help a lot :)

        • Anet February 8, 2017, 3:24 am

          Thank you! This is week 4 – struggling but I am alive. Feeling everything feels good.

    • Chris March 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

      Hi Rachelle, Don’t know if you are still responding. But hope you are still doing well. You said your symptoms are almost gone. Are you still experiencing the dizziness and the brain zaps? I am in week six of withdrawal and the dizziness and brain zaps are still there, not as extreme as before, but noticeable.

      Praying that I’m on the road to full recovery. The withdrawal symptoms are very very rough to deal with especially when you had to clue that this would happen. There are times that I feel like going back on the meds but God’s mercy kept me and is still keeping me.

  • Belinda January 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    I am so grateful I found this site. Reading all your comments regarding withdrawal etc. it all makes sense to me now. I was on Lexapro for just over 2 years, and in the last 6 months I’ve been experiencing severe headaches, dizziness and fainting. My GP has tested everything, my heart, my brain (CT scan), iron, blood, thyroid, eyesight, etc. and all is fine.

    I suggested to come off the lexapro as previously I was on Pristiq (antidepressant/anxiety) for 2 years and started fainting then too. I tapered down to 10mg then stopped and have been having these weird brain shudders like my eyes can’t keep up with my head movement. My GP thinks I need to drink more water but I drink 2-3 litres a day already!

    But after reading this page I know it’s withdrawal. In the last 2 weeks I’ve been extremely tired, no energy, diarrhea for 9 days, no appetite, brain shuddering and blurred vision at times. I’ve been very moody but I’d rather that than walk around like a zombie. No more anti-depressant / anti-anxiety meds for me thank you. It’s so good to read other peoples experiences and know I’m not alone! Thanks.

    • Kong4 January 13, 2017, 4:54 am

      Hang in there! 2+ weeks into the withdrawal. Some days are worse than others. But just like you I’d rather know it’s tough than walking around in a fog. I didn’t realize how huge the fog was until I went off the drug!

      Some days are more challenging, but I don’t ever want to go back! When the “bad days” hit I’ve been doing yoga, exercising, or reading. Anything to distract me. Hang in there to anyone trying for a healthier… (although challenging) way of life.

  • Billy S. January 10, 2017, 8:48 pm

    Update: After a few weeks of cold turkey and a couple trying L-Tyrosine (which I had done once before), as of tonight I am going back on Lexapro. I have my parents to thank for intervening by getting me an appointment with my doctor and helping to pay for my meds. Going cold turkey just wasn’t working. I only hope that resuming my meds doesn’t get worse before getting better, as I’ve heard it sometimes does. Please pray for me.

  • king3 December 29, 2016, 8:25 pm

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to explain (in detail) your withdrawal experiences! I’m going to keep reading them, to help me get through this. I took 10mg of Lexapro for about 8 years. 6 days ago it was time to renew or quit. I knew I had grown tolerant to the 10mg dosage. I also knew my doctor would recommend increasing my dosage.

    I didn’t want to do that, unless absolutely necessary. So I opted for cold turkey. I have experienced some head aches… nothing too significant. For me, the worst has been the disorientation… and the electrical zaps… and my anxiety. They weren’t bad the first couple of days. Now on day 6 they are definitely peaking.

    Being neurotic of course I googled electrical zaps and found MS-specifically Lhermitte’s and immediately thought I must have that. LOL. However this forum has eased that fear, and I know believe it is related to stopping the Lexapro.

    Wish me luck. I hate the heightened anxiety/depression. But I’m trying to find other (non-drug) related ways of coping. Best of luck to everyone trying to quit… I see why pharmaceutical companies make so much money on this stuff!

  • Billy S. December 21, 2016, 3:58 pm

    Stumbled across this via a Google search and thought I’d put in my $0.02 worth… I’ve been taking Lexapro for at least 4-5 years, with a break in the middle due to one my previous GPs refusing to renew my prescription since he was not a psychiatrist. I’ve been on several SSRIs over the last 20 years for chronic depression and I have to admit that Lexapro has been the most amenable to my physiology, i.e. least amount of side-effects. Every time I’ve had to discontinue an SSRI I’ve experienced and dealt with withdrawal symptoms so those are nothing new.

    Never pleasant, of course, but at least I know what I’m in for. My history with Lexapro is thus: several years at 10mg with said temporary lapse in the middle; then about 9 months of 20mg; and finally a self-imposed reduction back to 10mg several weeks ago. My current GP will not renew my prescription, presumably without seeing me first, and since I am currently between jobs, without health coverage, and can’t afford an office visit, much less continue expecting my parents to foot the monthly $115 bill for meds, my reduced dosage was an attempt to stretch out my last batch of pills.

    I’ve been cold turkey now for the last three or four days. I’ve come off a month or two of a vicious depressive episode with renewed energy (result: a clean and rearranged house!) but my sleep schedule has been completely upside down and I’ve been a good 40 lb above my old normal weight. Since my last pill I’ve been feeling the expected fizzy skin, brain zaps, haziness, slight jitters, my stomach doesn’t feel quite right, and as I type right now a bit of a headache in the base of my skull.

    Also the mid-back pain that I’ve suffered off and on for the last few years has returned. I’ve been up since about 3pm yesterday with a three hour “nap” from 10pm-1am last night, and I’m fighting to not crawl back into bed only to get up again mid-afternoon. My boundless energy of the last two weeks seems to have subsided somewhat.

    Gotta keep the momentum up. As I said I’ve been through this before, although it’s never pleasant and no telling how long before the withdrawal symptoms will last or whether underneath the artificial normalcy my depression is waiting to pounce again. I will keep you all posted on my progress.

  • Sharon December 6, 2016, 2:08 am

    I was taking Lexapro for about 9 years, due to heavy depression. I tried a few others like Zoloft and Celexa. Lexapro really helped my situation. I felt alive again. 9 years later I decided I want to stop taking it, my life is better, I don’t think I need it anymore. I also gained weight and have been fighting to lose it, with no avail.

    I was at 20mg, I dropped to 10 and then 5mg. Here comes the zaps and dizziness. It’s been horrible. I started this in July. The doctor said not to go cold turkey. I stayed on 5mg for awhile and then cut them in half. 5 days ago I stopped taking it all together. I still have the Zaps and dizziness but not as bad. I just want to stop this medication.

    I’ll just deal with it. Hopefully it will end soon. This is how the Big Pharma companies keep us taking meds. All pills somehow lead to some other symptoms and problems. Look at some commercials “Take this, but it will lead to this” I also stopped taking Lipitor for cholesterol.

    I was having such back pain. I couldn’t walk a block, my back muscles would cramp up so bad. Stopped taking it and my back pain went away. That’s how they make money. I had MRIs and all kind of testing on my back which led to nothing. It was the Lipitor.

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