How to Manage Side Effects when Coming Off Lexapro

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Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that physicians prescribe to alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety or depression. Whether you or your physician determine that the medication is no longer needed, do not stop the drug abruptly. Depending on the duration of the treatment, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. However, there are a number of ways to manage these side effects.

Lexapro Withdrawal Symptoms

As serotonin receptors are located in the brain and various other body systems, withdrawal symptoms are varied. Some of the most common symptoms include:

• Vivid dreams
• Electric shock sensations
• Flu-like symptoms
• Headaches
• Sleep disturbances
• Suicidal thoughts

Gradual Reduction

Practitioners highly advise that patients slowly stop taking the medication. Start by reducing the dose by one-quarter or one-half for a few days. Repeat the process until you no longer take the drug. Stop the reduction or return to a previous dosage if symptoms become too severe. Be sure to consult with a physician before and during the withdrawal process. A helpful guideline varies the tapering process according to the duration of treatment.

• Less than eight weeks of use-Taper down over the course of one or two weeks.
• Six to eight months of treatment-Gradually reduce the dosage over six to eight weeks.
• Extended maintenance doses-Reduce the dose by ¼ every four to six weeks.


Drink water throughout the day to help the body flush out the chemical compounds. Drinking juice is acceptable as long as the fluids do not make up most of your intake. Avoid caffeine as the substance often contributes to feelings of anxiety or stress.

Eat Healthy

It is possible to encourage the body to elevate serotonin levels naturally by eating foods rich in tryptophan. These foods include cheese, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, poultry, shellfish and soy products. However, to pave the way for serotonin to pass through the blood brain barrier and into the brain requires eating carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Carbohydrates elevate insulin levels. With the exception of tryptophan, insulin carries other amino acids and chemical compounds that normally get priority entrance into the brain to other body cells. This leaves the path clear for tryptophan.

Vitamin B Supplements

In addition to being responsible for the repair processes that cells, organs and systems regularly undergo, B-complex vitamins are needed to convert tryptophan into serotonin. By elevating serotonin naturally, patients are less likely to experience mood changes, suffer memory loss or have problems concentrating. Take the supplement according to package directions or as recommended by a physician.

Physical Activity

In addition to encouraging serotonin production, getting physical hastens the process of eliminating wastes and toxins. Exercise can also act as a mental and physical diversion from possible cravings for the medication.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Manage Side Effects when Coming Off Lexapro," in, February 21, 2016, (accessed August 18, 2022).