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Escitalopram Tapering (Lexapro)

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on August 4, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Tapering escitalopram (Lexapro©) can subject a person to extreme discomfort if not done properly. Fortunately, strategic and compassionate treatment is one of our specialties.

Powerful natural remedies for depression are available, which may be used in place of these drugs. Holistic escitalopram alternatives offer healthy ways to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

Does Your Diagnosis
Require Escitalopram?

escitalopram tapering
Alternative to Meds has the expertise and 17+ years of experience helping people through escitalopram tapering. Our success rate is documented in published evidence where over 77% of people tapering off medications such as escitalopram can enjoy a better quality of life, with fewer symptoms. Drugs can be replaced with a holistic lifestyle, correct nutrition, and other therapies that work. Many of us professionals at the center have traveled a similar path as you. We suffered similarly. This peer-type relationship is evident in our treatment model and in how we nurture people back to health.
Watch this remarkable video of a woman who was able to come off of both antidepressants and benzodiazepines while under the care of ATMC. She came in barely able to walk or function, and left medication-free, able to easily power walk, and as a bonus, regained the professional career that she thought was lost.
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Help is available to a person considering escitalopram tapering at Alternative to Meds Center. The program is housed in a luxurious, inpatient facility that is fully staffed with licensed physicians, nurses, clinicians, and a host of compassionate, highly trained caregivers. Our staff is passionate about providing our clients with the level of care that we consider to be the best in the world. The following is a brief overview of the Alternative to Meds Center escitalopram tapering program. We hope this may provide some idea of our methods to help clients get off escitalopram safely, gently, and without harsh or lingering discomforts.

Is Escitalopram Titration Right for You?

A person may have been prescribed escitalopram in the hope to get relief from symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or a combination of these. But it has been well-established that antidepressants also initiate such symptoms. It may be that the original symptoms have not improved to a satisfactory result. Common side effects of antidepressants may begin to appear such as sexual dysfunction in both males and females, unusual sweating, dizziness, shaking, nausea, insomnia, and many others. These may be quite difficult to tolerate as they could intensify. Talk to your physician or medical support persons before stopping escitalopram and get the guidance required for your safety.

A person may not have been given other treatment options before starting on escitalopram and might wish to explore non-drug-based treatments for which escitalopram cessation could be a prerequisite. Please be aware that getting off antidepressants can be made much more tolerable with proper guidance and compassionate care. Before attempting the process, we urge you to find out more about how to get off escitalopram gently, and safely, with competent guidance to help you. Withdrawal done properly can be surprisingly comfortable and predictable when administered with compassionate medical support.

Guidelines for tapering escitalopram include:
  • Gradually reduce the dosage over time, under medical supervision.
  • Ask your prescriber for the lowest dosage which for escitalopram is 5mg pills. These can be used to more easily configure the total prescribed dosage as cuts are made.
  • Use a pill-cutter or have your doctor cut the pills as needed to make the required reductions accurately.
  • Withdrawals tend to emerge around the half-life point. For escitalopram, this ranges from 27-33 hours.
  • Allow adequate time between reductions for reactions to settle out, a week or more.
  • The last cuts can be the toughest, so slow down as needed.
  • If withdrawals emerge that are too intense, your prescriber can reinstate a higher dose, and after things settle, can resume the gradual taper again.
  • Keep a log so you can keep track of changes, reactions, and times, as these may need to change over the course of the taper.
  • Get adequate rest, stay hydrated, and be well-nourished, during the taper. Take time off work if needed.

WARNING re: Escitalopram Tapering

WARNING:  Tapering antidepressants such as escitalopram too abruptly can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Lexapro has been cited for intense suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Please seek medical help before starting or stopping this drug.1

Is it possible to find relief from symptoms without prescription drugs?

escitalopram holistic symptoms reliefSometimes a person receives an initial “boost” when starting escitalopram treatment, but over time finds their symptoms have intensified instead of improved. This is not an uncommon outcome for antidepressants and could be puzzling as to why this has occurred. You may be interested in learning what other approaches could be considered for relief. Today, many roads lead to improvements in health, some of which were not as readily available as they are today. Escitalopram tapering could be a strategic option prior to beginning other treatments, as well as softening the taper process itself.4-6

A woman taking escitalopram may want to consider getting off escitalopram if she has concerns about planning to become pregnant.1 Talk to your doctor if possible before becoming pregnant to discuss the best options forward.

The drug label information tells us that escitalopram is not approved in pediatric patients due to the increased suicidality (twice that of placebo) noted in trials.1 However, large clinical trials out of Sweden showed that a concerning percentage of adults also experience this unwanted side effect.7

Antidepressant medications tend to have an effect on cognitive functioning,1 which may rule out driving an automobile or performing other types of activities that require alertness and uncompromised motor skills. Treatment for stopping antidepressant medication safely could help a person regain the ability to do these types of tasks once again, especially important where the ability to operate machinery or drive is essential for one’s job. Symptoms such as impaired cognitive ability may make the task of trying to quit escitalopram on your own particularly difficult. However, with proper guidance and compassionate oversight and care the process can be made tolerable.

Alternatives to Treatment with Escitalopram

For some, a prescription of escitalopram may have been recommended after a loss of a spouse or other tragic loss or traumatic type event. However, a person may seek to resolve such devastating issues with an appropriate type of cognitive/talk therapy or through other holistic means. Emotional blunting, i.e., numbing of emotional responses, and cognitive impairment are quite commonly reported during a course of treatment with antidepressants. Escitalopram tapering may help in this situation and may help make your chosen form of counseling or talk therapy more effective as a result.

A person may have read the FDA “Black Box” warning on the label after starting on escitalopram and now just doesn’t feel comfortable with the potential risks of this medication.2 These are just some reasons to consider an escitalopram tapering program, which can open the door to effective alternative treatment for troubling symptoms.

Biophysical/Social/Spiritual Links to Depression

Depression is categorized in psychiatric and medical practice and in much of today’s literature as an illness. Based on the long history of the medical model of treatment, many in the mental health field view depression, as in other illnesses, through the “medical-model lens.” For example, a patient has an infection. So, the patient is prescribed medicine (antibiotics) to get rid of the infection. That is the medical model for treatment. Another common example is where a patient exhibits the required number of positive responses to certain questions (criteria) for a diagnosis of depression and then is prescribed some medicine (like Lexapro or similar) to get rid of it.

However, some mental health practitioners regard the diagnostic criteria and the term depression itself as casting too wide a net, and feel that depression might be more accurately and practically understood within other overlapping contexts. These might include examining social, biophysical, or spiritual factors or some combination of these. A priest or spiritual guide who ministers to the suffering of a person might view depression in the context of spiritual unease. They might lean toward spiritual help in the form of counseling, perhaps discussing and correcting negative behaviors, meditation, prayer, seeking happiness through good acts, repairing rifts in relationships, and the like. A naturopath might lean towards blood testing for vitamin deficiencies, allergies, or mineral imbalances and correcting these. There are many forms of help besides a prescription of escitalopram, and most work well in combination. Commonly, one might even enhance the other(s).

Alternatives to Medication as the Only Treatment

However, where a patient has been diagnosed as having depression framed solely as a “mental illness,” without other extenuating examination or inquiry, the idea of giving the patient medicine to get rid of it still tends to serve as the first-line (or only line) of treatment. That is the medical model discussed earlier. However, a lot of good research has been done but perhaps disregarded, which shows many factors could possibly help resolve such issues without requiring antidepressant medications like Lexapro. For example, let us consider these:

  1. In Britain, Dr. J.C. Watt reported his findings that through blood testing, he found toxemia directly correlated to acute, chronic, or returning episodes of depression, especially after a flu attack where the intestines were left susceptible to absorption of dangerous toxins. He found a low-protein diet was effective as a treatment.3
  2. Research has shown the connections between certain medical conditions such as a deficiency in vitamin B12, Vitamin D, low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, lack of exposure to sunlight, and many others as potentially causative factors regarding depression. Hence, their treatment could be both effective and non-drug-based.4-6,8,9

There are many more examples that can be found with a little time spent researching. How often have patients been prescribed Lexapro or Prozac, etc., within the context of the medical model mentioned above? And how many were given any preliminary testing for nutritional deficiencies or to discover any of the other possible physical/environmental causes and contributors to depression? 5

Since we now know that nutrition plays such a fundamental role in mental health, we are astounded at the lack of interest in the medical community in nutrition-based treatments for “psychiatric” symptoms. Statistics show that the majority of patients receive prescription drug treatment immediately, and almost none were ever offered non-drug-based options. An informed person may choose to get off escitalopram under competent medical care and utilize investigative methods to find and resolve the root cause(s) of their depression.

Searching for and Correcting Root Causes for Depression

escitalopram taperingPerhaps you or your loved one has been searching for answers concerning unwanted symptoms. Would you prefer other treatments besides numbing unwanted feelings with harsh drugs? Perhaps tapering escitalopram safely and gently would be an option to consider. We can help. Getting off escitalopram does not have to be uncomfortable or scary when done in a well-staffed and compassionate inpatient program such as the Alternative to Meds program. The bonus for our clients is that, as well as stopping escitalopram or other antidepressant medications gently and safely, one can also receive expert help in discovering the root causes and contributing factors for depression and other symptoms. This may be especially welcomed where diagnostic testing methods such as the ones mentioned above may not ever have been used in your treatment.

Find Out More About the Alternative to Meds Escitalopram Tapering Treatment Program

Trying to quit escitalopram on your own might seem too daunting a task. At Alternative to Meds Center, the individual program for each client is designed by experienced and expert medical staff who understand how to get off prescription drugs safely and without intense withdrawals. Each program is tailored so that the individual gets a chance to not only complete their escitalopram tapering but can spend the time necessary to test for and correct other things that need correcting.

The Alternative to Meds Center approach consists of science-based, holistic protocols (e.g., metabolic testing, removal of neurotoxins, rehabilitation of neurotransmitters, orthomolecular medicine, and many more) that support detoxification, rebuilding, and recovery so that you can begin to manifest the life you desire.

We invite you to contact Alternative to Meds Center for much more information on escitalopram tapering and the program steps that allow our clients to reach their health goals naturally, without the need to rely solely on prescription meds for relief.

1. Khan F, Bernadt M, “Intense Suicidal Thoughts and Self-harm Following Escitalopram Treatment.” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine 2011 Jan-Jun PMID 22021958 [cited 2022 July 12].

2. “Escitalopram (Lexapro) Summary of Black Box Warning” [cited 2022 July 12].

3. Watt JC. Toxins and Mental Depression. Br Med J. 1933 May 20;1(3776):896. PMCID: PMC2368517. [cited 2022 July 12].

4. Lerner PP, Sharony L, Miodownik C. Association between mental disorders, cognitive disturbances and vitamin D serum level: Current state. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018 Feb;23:89-102. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2017.11.011. Epub 2017 Dec 23. PMID: 29460820. [cited 2022 July 12].

5. Sathyanarayana R, et al., “Understanding nutrition, depression, and mental illness.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry 2008 Apr-Jun PMID 19742217 [cited 2022 July 12].

6. Sarris J. Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: a systematic review. Phytother Res. 2007 Aug;21(8):703-16. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2187. PMID: 17562566. [cited 2022 July 12]

7. Hedna K, Fastbom J, Erlangsen A, Waern M. Antidepressant Use and Suicide Rates in Adults Aged 75 and Above: A Swedish Nationwide Cohort Study. Front Public Health. 2021 Feb 19;9:611559. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.611559. PMID: 33681129; PMCID: PMC7933212. [cited 2022 July 12]

8. Osher Y, Belmaker RH. Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2009 Summer;15(2):128-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00061.x. PMID: 19499625; PMCID: PMC6494070. [cited 2022 July 12]

9. Kent ST, McClure LA, Crosson WL, Arnett DK, Wadley VG, Sathiakumar N. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environ Health. 2009 Jul 28;8:34. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-8-34. PMID: 19638195; PMCID: PMC2728098. [cited 2022 July 12]

Originally Published Nov 2, 2019 by Lyle Murphy

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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