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How to Wean Off Lexapro?

Have you been wondering how to wean off Lexapro? If you’re ready to stop taking this SSRI, read on to learn how to safely do so.

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is the brand name for escitalopram, a common antidepressant. It works to treat depression, anxiety, and other similar conditions by increasing the amount of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for mood and other important parts of daily life.1

As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), it does this by preventing the body from reabsorbing serotonin, allowing its positive effects to be felt longer.2

How to Wean Off Lexapro

Weaning Off of Lexapro

While Lexapro is a beneficial treatment for depression and anxiety, there may come a time when an individual needs to wean off Lexapro. This can happen for a variety of reasons. However, no matter why someone needs to wean off Lexapro, it’s important to understand Lexapro withdrawal and how to detox safely.

How Long Does It Take To Go Off of Lexapro?

There are many factors that can determine how long it takes to go off Lexapro. This is because stopping Lexapro involves first tapering dose until eventually stopping use altogether. Stopping Lexapro, even gradually, can result in withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal is the result of detoxification, or detox. Here, the body begins to revert to its natural chemistry, which can be an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous process.3 

Why Lexapro Withdrawal Develops

Like many other antidepressants that are also SSRIs, Lexapro causes an increase in serotonin. Even though it’s not adding more serotonin and only increasing accessibility to the chemical that’s already there, the body can become accustomed to these elevated levels.

As a result, Lexapro withdrawal develops as the body has to return to lower levels of serotonin. This drop can result in discomfort, as lower serotonin can cause everything from depressed moods to difficulty in day-to-day life. However, Lexapro withdrawal symptoms are temporary.

Lexapro Withdrawal Timeline

Because withdrawal can be influenced by a variety of factors, there is no single Lexapro withdrawal timeline. However, while people may encounter different stages at different points, there are two main stages to be aware of.

The first is when physical symptoms end. Physical symptoms end much earlier than the psychological, and they can include things like cramps, nausea, or headaches. Typically, while these symptoms are the most uncomfortable, they only last around a week or two.

Psychological or emotional symptoms last much longer, even up to several months. Some psychological symptoms, such as cravings, last the longest and can still occur up to a year after the final dose.

What Are the Emotional and Physical Symptoms of Lexapro Withdrawal?

Because Lexapro and serotonin have such a strong effect on mood, these may be some of the most notable symptoms when it comes to Lexapro withdrawal. These symptoms can also be the most dangerous, as symptoms like psychological cravings can result in binge use and an elevated risk of an overdose.

Emotional Indications of Lexapro Withdrawal

Some of the emotional symptoms experienced during Lexapro withdrawal can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration problems
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts

Physical Symptoms of Lexapro Withdrawal

One of the most common effects of increased serotonin is a boost in mood. However, serotonin can also impact other parts of daily life, from digestion to sleep patterns. As a result, some Lexapro withdrawal symptoms are physical.

Physical symptoms of Lexapro withdrawal may include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Brain zaps
  • Dizziness, fatigue, or confusion
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or indigestion
  • Sweating
  • Weight changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Altered perception of certain senses, such as smell or taste

Factors That Can Affect the Withdrawal Timeline

As mentioned above, Lexapro withdrawal can be unique to the individual. This is because how fast the body is able to eliminate Lexapro from the system and restore natural brain chemistry can depend on factors such as genetics and metabolism. However, those aren’t the only factors that come into play with considering how long detoxification and withdrawal can take. 4

Additional Contributing Factors

Other factors that can affect Lexapro’s withdrawal timeline include:

  • How long a person has taken Lexapro or any other SSRI medications
  • Dosage amount
  • Whether they quit suddenly or slowly reduced the dosage

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How To Stop Taking Lexapro Safely

There may be a time when it is important to wean off of Lexapro. Because of certain elevated risks, it is important to always do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

While different doctors may approach the topic in a different way, there are typically four steps involved in weaning off Lexapro. These help safely navigate detoxification and withdrawal while still treating any underlying conditions that rely on an SSRI. Education and awareness are also important during this time, so many physicians will take extra time to explain each step of the process to their patient.

Precautions to Consider

Weaning off of Lexapro or other SSRIs doesn’t have to be scary if you follow some of this advice. Overall, the process of stopping Lexapro use safely includes:

  • Slowly tapering down dosage amount
  • If required, patients can be switched to a longer-acting SSRI
  • Proper patient education that if symptoms of withdrawal are experienced, they are non-life-threatening
  • Patients should understand that if withdrawal occurs, it does not mean that they are addicted

Tips for Coping With Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms

Although there is no single cure for Lexapro withdrawal symptoms, there are ways to help cope with the symptoms. From natural remedies to medication, these tips for coping with Lexapro withdrawal symptoms can help you maintain your quality of life during detoxification. They can also help you find encouragement from the support system around you.

How to Wean Off Lexapro

Techniques that Help Mitigate Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the techniques and methods that may help you cope with Lexapro withdrawal symptoms during detox can include:

  • Eating a healthful and nutritious diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking all other medications according to the prescription
  • Completing the tapering process
  • Tracking changes in mood on a calendar or in a notebook
  • Telling a doctor about any withdrawal symptoms
  • Seeking support from friends, family, or community groups

Get Help For Lexapro Withdrawal at Ripple Ranch

Lexapro can be a beneficial treatment for many struggling with depression, anxiety, or similar disorders. However, when it’s time to end treatment or switch to a new medication, Lexapro withdrawal can be intimidating. With Ripple Ranch, you won’t have to go through it alone.

If you’re looking for help with Lexapro withdrawal, Ripple Ranch offers a wide range of resources and services. Here, you can find science-based holistic treatments and therapies, all while taking advantage of the natural beauty of our twenty-acre campus. Our licensed staff of healthcare professionals is prepared to help you along every step of the way, from beginning your detoxification journey to aftercare.