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Lexapro Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

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Lexapro Withdrawal Treatment in Chattanooga, TN
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

Lexapro, the brand name for Escitalopram, is a widely prescribed antidepressant in the United States, known for its effectiveness in treating depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Lexapro works by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve mood and alleviate symptoms of these disorders.

Many individuals may take Lexapro for several years, either until they feel they no longer need it or if they start experiencing adverse effects that necessitate a switch in medication. However, discontinuing Lexapro should never be done abruptly or without medical supervision. Withdrawal symptoms from Lexapro can be significant. To prevent or manage these symptoms effectively, it is crucial to gradually taper off the medication under the guidance of healthcare professionals.

What is Lexapro Withdrawal?

Lexapro withdrawal occurs when a person stops taking or reduces their dosage of Lexapro. This can lead to both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms as the body reacts to the absence of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms vary in severity and duration, influenced by factors such as the dosage, how long Lexapro was taken, and individual sensitivity to changes in medication.

Causes of Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms

Lexapro acts on brain regions that control serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood, cognition, reward, learning, and various physiological processes. By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, Lexapro leaves more serotonin available in the brain, thus helping to manage symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Long-term use of Lexapro can lead to physical dependence and tolerance, which are natural physiological responses to chronic medication use and do not necessarily indicate addiction. However, individuals who are physically dependent on Lexapro are at risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop taking the medication. These withdrawal symptoms can be distressing and may mirror the conditions Lexapro is prescribed to treat.

Abrupt cessation of Lexapro without a medically supervised tapering plan can disrupt the brain’s chemical balance, leading to the resurgence of symptoms like depression and anxiety. This sudden deprivation of a critical medication underscores the importance of professional guidance and support during the withdrawal process to ensure safety and minimize discomfort.

Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms

SSRI medications like Lexapro impact brain function in various ways, and withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity based on the duration and dosage of use. Generally, the longer and heavier the usage, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms can be. In some cases, these symptoms can significantly disrupt daily responsibilities at home or work.

Common Symptoms of Lexapro Withdrawal Include:

  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Crying spells
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory issues

Approximately 44% of individuals who stop taking Lexapro abruptly experience symptoms like dizziness, muscle tension, and chills, rather than those who gradually taper off the medication. Confusion and concentration problems are also frequent during withdrawal.

Less Common Escitalopram Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulties with speech and chewing movements
  • Difficulty walking
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lightheadedness
  • Manic episodes
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness in the legs
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Unsteady gait
  • Weakness

For safe and effective management of these symptoms, medically assisted detox at a certified facility, such as our Iris Wellness Group outpatient detox, is recommended to prevent complications and provide necessary medical support.

Symptoms of Lexapro Withdrawal

How Long Does Lexapro Withdrawal Last?

The timeline for Lexapro withdrawal varies significantly from one individual to another, influenced by factors such as dosage, length of use, age, and metabolic rate. Not everyone will experience every symptom listed, and some may encounter very rare symptoms. Typically, Lexapro withdrawal can last from about a week to much longer, depending on these variables.

Symptoms can begin as early as one to three days after discontinuing Lexapro. Some individuals may find their most severe symptoms occur around 90 days, or three months after stopping, with others taking several months or even up to a year to fully recover.

Stopping Lexapro Cold Turkey

It is highly advised against stopping Lexapro “cold turkey.” Abruptly discontinuing antidepressants, or any significant medication without a doctor’s guidance, poses serious risks. Suddenly stopping can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and other health complications. In some cases, symptoms from abrupt cessation may persist much longer than those from a gradual discontinuation.

Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen. This ensures a safe and structured approach to reducing your dosage, ideally minimizing withdrawal symptoms and supporting a smoother transition off the medication.

Can You Die from Lexapro Withdrawal?

While withdrawal from Lexapro can be uncomfortable and challenging, it is generally not considered life-threatening. Serious or life-threatening complications from Lexapro withdrawal are extremely rare. However, individual experiences can vary, and in some cases, severe symptoms may occur. If you have concerns about your specific situation, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for personalized assistance and advice.

Coping with Lexapro Withdrawal

The most effective strategy to manage Lexapro withdrawal is to prevent it by avoiding abrupt cessation. Quitting “cold turkey” can heighten the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. Instead, it’s advisable to consult with your prescribing physician to devise a plan for gradually discontinuing the medication safely.

In managing Escitalopram withdrawal, it is also essential to consider ongoing treatment for any underlying conditions such as depression or anxiety. Your doctor might suggest transitioning to another antidepressant or different medications if suitable. Here are several strategies to help ease Lexapro withdrawal:

Gradual Tapering

Gradually tapering off Lexapro is the most effective method to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This involves slowly reducing the dosage to allow your body to adjust to lower levels of medication. Your doctor can provide a tailored tapering schedule and closely monitor your progress to mitigate severe withdrawal symptoms.

Practicing Good Self-Care

Enhancing your overall health can also mitigate withdrawal symptoms.

Effective self-care practices include:

  • Eating a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Adhering to the physician’s tapering guidelines
  • Ensuring adequate rest
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Seeking support from family, friends, or support groups

Lexapro Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms typically occur when most of the Lexapro has been metabolized and eliminated from the body, based on the drug’s half-life of about 30 hours.

Acute Phase (First Few Days to Weeks)

You may start to feel initial withdrawal symptoms within the first few days after stopping or reducing Lexapro dosage. Common early symptoms include dizziness, headaches, nausea, flu-like symptoms, sleep disturbances, and mood changes.

Peak Symptoms (First Few Weeks)

Withdrawal symptoms usually reach their peak in the first few weeks after stopping the medication. During this phase, symptoms like dizziness, brain zaps, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings can be more intense.

Subacute Phase (Weeks to Months)

Over time, the intensity of withdrawal symptoms generally decreases. During this phase, some individuals might still experience milder symptoms such as fatigue, mood fluctuations, and occasional anxiety or depression.

Resolution (Months to Several Months)

Eventually, most withdrawal symptoms will diminish, and individuals should begin to feel more stable and return to their pre-withdrawal state.

Escitalopram Withdrawal Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

What is Lexapro Detox?

Lexapro detox involves the body naturally eliminating Lexapro and its metabolites after the medication is discontinued. This process is different from drug detoxification associated with substance abuse. Detoxification here refers to the gradual removal of the medication from the body through natural metabolic processes. The duration of Lexapro detox can vary based on individual factors such as metabolism, dosage, and the length of time Lexapro was used.

Lexapro Withdrawal Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

At Iris Wellness Group we specialize in providing targeted and compassionate treatment for individuals struggling with Lexapro withdrawal in Chattanooga, TN. Recognizing the unique journey of each person affected by Escitalopram addiction, our dedicated team offers personalized care plans designed to address the specific needs and challenges of our clients. Our goal is to support individuals on their path to recovery, helping them achieve a healthier, substance-free lifestyle through a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Treatment Options for Lexapro Addiction and Withdrawal

  • Outpatient Detox: Offers medically supervised detoxification services to safely manage withdrawal symptoms in an outpatient setting.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Designed for those who require flexible treatment schedules without intensive daily commitments.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Ideal for individuals needing more support than standard outpatient care, providing a structured therapy schedule while allowing patients to live at home.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Serves as a bridge between inpatient care and outpatient treatment, offering comprehensive day-long therapy sessions for more intensive care without an overnight stay.

To complement our range of treatment options, Iris Wellness Group integrates a holistic approach to therapy, targeting the multifaceted aspects of Lexapro addiction. Understanding that recovery is not one-size-fits-all, we tailor our therapy programs to meet the individual needs of our clients, focusing on not just overcoming addiction but also on fostering long-term wellness and resilience.

Therapies Offered for Lexapro Addiction and Withdrawal:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Aims to identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors related to cannabis use.
  • Individual Therapy: Offers a private setting for patients to explore personal issues and challenges related to their addiction.
  • Group Therapy: Provides a supportive environment where individuals can share experiences and strategies for coping with addiction.
  • Family Therapy: Engages family members in the treatment process to heal relationships and build a supportive home environment for recovery.

If you or someone you care about be grappling with Escitalopram withdrawal, it’s crucial to act now. Contact our drug rehab in Chattanooga, TN at 423-460-9766 or through our online form to embark on the path towards a life free from drug dependence.

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