Saturday, March 13, 2010


After writing this blog posting, I was approached by one of my most awesomest friends (and, yes... awesomest is a word!). :) She was wondering how I weaned off of the Lexapro. After telling her my story, I felt I should also post it here. When a doctor tells you not to stop antidepressants cold turkey, you should listen. Here's why...

It literally took me months to wean myself from the medication. I first tried to stop cold turkey. I had finished my prescription for the month and didn't want to pay to refill it. I was thinking that I may be a bit more 'emotional' for a while and then I'd be fine. I was soooo wrong.

A week in, I had a complete emotional meltdown. Literally, one of the worst evenings in my life. I can not express to you the horror that was that night. It was the deepest depression mixed with the highest amount of anxiety possible. It was sheer panic, indescribable dread, and impending doom all mixed together.

What was even worse... I was experiencing weird sensations. They were kind-of like an electrical shock through my whole body. They weren't painful, but very scary. Immediately after feeling the shock, I would get the feeling I was going to pass out. Then, a second later, it would be gone.

They started after day 3 or so, and by the time I got to that week mark, they were occurring at least every 10 minutes. Finally, that night, I looked up Lexapro withdrawal symptoms and saw that other people had experienced these "shocks", and some had progressed to seizures. I became convinced that's where I was headed and went that night to a 24-hour pharmacy and refilled the prescription. By the next evening, those "shocks" were completely gone and I felt light-years better emotionally.

That whole incident scared me pretty badly, so I waited a few weeks before trying again. This time, I did it right. I cut the 20mg pills in half (10mg) and took those for a good month. Then I tried to take 10mg every other day. The "shocks" returned (although not NEARLY as bad as they were that one night). So instead, I cut the pill into fourths (5mg) and took that everyday. After another several weeks, I started taking it every other day, then every 3rd day, and finally not at all.

It's been about a month since I've taken 1/4 a pill, and I still get an occasional "shock" every once in a while. The doctor said that it takes months for the medicine to fully and completely leave your system. I have noticed that they went from 1 a day, to 1 every few days, and I think I have gone about a week without one yet. So, I'm making progress!

Respect the medication! Respect that it is literally altering chemicals in your brain! Give your body time to readjust slowly.

Okay, PSA over! :) Thanks to my most awesomest friend for inspiring me to share this story!


Amy Nielson said...

Thanks for sharing. I have been wondering how to wean myself and now I know what to do and NOT to do.

RMCarter said...

An important note from my friend Susie. GREAT ADVICE!!

"I just want to add that the method of weaning is different for each type of anti-depressant or any type of medicine. Some, you DO NOT skip days. Someone reading that post should not just follow what you did. Or what another friend or family member did/tried. Each medicine is different with a different half life, dosage, how much you were taking, how long you were taking it, what you were taking it with. Your Dr. will tell you exactly how to do it. That is the most important thing. She/He will have the tools and knowledge to help you do it and make the transition as easy as possible. Each med is VERY different. Like you said- Respect the medicine. And consult with your Dr. FIRST."