Also known as escitalopram, Lexapro is a drug prescribed by doctors to patients suffering with depression. The drug itself is known as an antidepressant, and can be categorised in the SSRI bracket of the medication – selective serotonin repute inhibitors.
When you suffer with mental health conditions such as depression, the chemicals in the brain are not working together as they should, often with one or more being out of balance. Taking the antidepressants such as Lexapro re-stabilises the chemicals and hormones to bring your mood back to a ‘normal’ level.
Not just used for treating depression, Lexapro is often given to patients who suffering with stress, and also anxiety.
This medication can only be given to patients over the age of 12.
How Long Does Lexapro Work For?
The half-life of Lexapro is quite long when compared to other drugs of the same nature. You’re looking at between 27-32 hours for half of the dose you consumed to be removed from the body. Obviously there are a lot of factors which can change this length of time.
Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms
One of the main Lexapro withdrawal symptoms that patients report is insomnia / sleeplessness, not being to fall asleep or stay asleep. This can often bring a number of other problems alongside it such as:
- Lack of concentration or motivation
- Lack of energy
- Lack of interest in interests and hobbies that would once make you happy
Not just that, there are a number of other Lexapro withdrawal symptoms reported by patients withdrawing from the drug:
- Electric shock-like sensations, often described as ‘brain zaps’
- Loss of balance
- Feeling light-headed
- Feeling as though you’re spinning
- Pins and needles
- Problems with eyes
- Loss of vision
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle aches and pains
- Fever and chills (flu-like symptoms)
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and / or cramps
- Increased / decreased appetite
How Long Does Lexapro Withdrawal Last?
As with many different drugs and many different cases, each person will react to Lexapro withdrawal differently. Although the withdrawal symptoms themselves are said to be intense and not very pleasant, the majority of cases seem to dissipate within a few weeks. However, on the other side of the coin, other patients have reported it took months for them to return to ‘normal’ again after weaning themselves away from the drug.
There are many contributing factors to how long your Lexapro withdrawal will last, including the following…
How long were you taking the drug?
It seems to be a running trend among drugs that the longer you have been taking something, the longer it will take for your body to get used to life without it again.
If you have been taking Lexapro for a long time, the withdrawal time will be longer. As a general rule, if you have been taking the drug for around twelve months or so, three moths or 90 days should be the time length of time you give yourself to get over with the withdrawals.
What dosage were you on?
The dosage you were taking of Lexapro will also have an effect on how long it takes you to withdraw from it. The higher your dosage, the longer it will take your body to get used to life without it. If you’re taking a higher dosage for a longer time, it will take even further still. One report showed a patient taking almost four years to show no more Lexapro withdrawal symptoms.
Many patients start off taking a 10mg dose of Lexapro with the option of increased to 20mg if the dose proves not to be high enough. As with any drug, the higher the dosage, the longer it will take you to wean yourself away from it, and the harder the drug will be to quit should you decide to stop altogether, going cold turkey.
Are you prone to withdrawals?
It’s something we’ve touched on a few times but sometimes, your genetics will have a part to play in how well you deal with the withdrawals from any drug. If you are a person who suffers terribly, you are likely to have a hard withdrawing from this drug, as well as many others.
If you have been an addict to something, smoking (for example), or alcohol, and you have found it virtually impossible to beat the habit, it could be that you are more prone to suffering at the hands of withdrawal symptoms than others.
How are you withdrawing from Lexapro?
There are two ways to withdraw from anything you have become dependant on. You can either go ‘cold turkey’, stopping the drug one day completely and just not taking it again. You can also wean yourself away from the drug, taking a long period of time to reduce the dosage, until eventually you are on the lowest dosage and your next step is to stop taking it.
Because you are weaning yourself away from Lexapro, the withdrawal symptoms won’t be such a slap in the face as they will be when you go cold turkey.
The good news is that weaning yourself away from Lexapro is often advised by your doctor, rather than taking the cold turkey approach. Reports have shown that the side effects are massively reduced when reducing your dosage over time, and although the drug will still be in your system, and therefore your life, for longer, you are more likely to have a successful journey as you try to quit.
Going cold turkey is very rarely recommend by the doctor because of the possible negative side effects it can cause, especially in patients with diminished mental health.
How long does it take to withdraw from Lexapro?
As we’ve stated, every case is different but a general rule seems to be that the Lexapro withdrawal time can range anywhere from a couple of weeks to over a year, with the rare case of even longer time frames than that. It will very much depend on you, your current state of health, and the help you have around you. The more tools or help you have on your side, the easier you will find it.
What can help with Lexapro withdrawal?
There are a number of ways you can make your battle against Lexapro withdrawal easier, and the best place to start is with yourself. By eating healthy, making sure you have a healthy and balance diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and you drink plenty of water, you’re making an attempt to make your body healthier and happier and therefore better equipped to deal with your journey ahead.
Plenty of exercise is also wise, and you may even want to consider therapy or counselling to help you deal with the process of emotions you’re likely to go through. It is hard re-adjusting to life without something you have become dependant or addicted to, and sometimes you just need a little helping hand understanding what you’re experiencing. When you’re looking at mental health problems, sometimes the best thing to do is talk it out and a counsellor or therapist is well equipped to do just that.
You should also ensure your family and friends know of your current situation. There are risks associated when stopping taking any medication but antidepressants carry with them slightly higher risks. Without the right careful eyes on you, it would be easy to slip back into depression again, struggling to deal with the withdrawal symptoms and learning to live without the drug as your assistant.
This drug is a very powerful one and isn’t one to be taken, or stopped, lightly. If you think Lexapro is not right for you, or you want to look at taking yourself off the drug, have a chat with your doctor who will be able to advise you on how to do it properly, minimising the chances of nasty side effects and withdrawal symptoms.