Last Updated on June 21, 2022 by
Last Updated on June 21, 2022 by
The first point to really make clear is DO NOT ABRUPTLY STOP TAKING LEXAPRO OR ANY OTHER SSRI MEDICATION.
Alternatives can help transition in a gradual and gentle way to reduce medication over time. Diet is a cornerstone of both physical and mental wellness. The importance of a diet that provides the micro-nutrients for the billions of functions inside a healthy body and functioning central nervous system cannot be overstated. Creating successful Lexapro® alternatives in a treatment plan may be exponentially enhanced by utilizing more than one therapy. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy in combination with upgrading the diet could be even more effective.
Eliminating things that contribute to depression is also a good place to start, such as getting ample sleep every night, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active, and avoiding drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, processed foods, and other sources of toxins. Even certain foods and food allergies can contribute to depression and other unwanted symptoms. Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to depression.
Other Lexapro substitutes include holistic and alternative medicine. There are some powerful natural remedies for depression that may provide workable alternatives to pharmaceutical prescription medications as preventative measures. For transitioning from medication, the use of herbal remedies must be well-monitored by medical professionals who are familiar with drug tapering and understand the mechanics involved during gentle withdrawal and relapse-free recovery. Start with the basics. Upgrade the diet. Improve sleep. Eliminate negative food choices and any recreational use of drugs and alcohol. Test for nutritional deficiencies and correct them. Get your body moving. Have fun with hobbies and learn some new skills or hone some you may have abandoned. Do volunteer work — it’s highly therapeutic! Stop watching the news. Detox (prune) your social contacts and improve the relationships that you treasure. There is so much potential joy in life and so many ways for you to re-discover your love and passion. The following are evidence-based items that can be discussed with your physician or caregiver that may help speed up your journey back to vibrant wellness and energy.
Please continue reading about other alternatives to Lexapro that are discussed below, including psychotherapy and others.
*Studies (Kofler et al.) have shown evidence that amino acids play an important role in treating and preventing depression.
There are many possible causes of depression. These may include impaired hormonal states, deficiency of vitamin D or other essential nutrients, substandard diet, neurochemistry dysfunction, lack of sleep, and failed life aspirations.7,8,9
Users of Lexapro (generic escitalopram) commonly seek out Lexapro alternatives to help eliminate the many associated problems with this antidepressant medication. This medication is classed as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is prescribed to treat depression (major depression or clinical depression) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).10 Natural Lexapro alternatives are often sought after when drug side effects become too bothersome or if the medication is not adequately controlling the symptoms it is being used to treat.11 Among the alternatives to Lexapro are many therapies and alternative treatments. Other medications may be recommended as traditional Lexapro antidepressant alternatives whether antidepressants or antipsychotic medications but substitute drugs are very likely to cause any or all of the same problems as Lexapro.12
Natural (non-drug-based) Lexapro alternative treatments do not bring on the same adverse reactions, nor are they addictive. Effective relief can be found without resorting to drugs alone.9
Counseling, psychotherapy, talk therapy, life coaching, and other forms of therapy greatly help people with depression or GAD who are seeking natural Lexapro alternatives.13 Therapy can be all that it takes to alleviate depression for some people, especially acute treatment of mild to moderate depression. Various forms of psychotherapy including short-term therapy (10-20 weeks) allow patients to gain insight and resolve their depression through a verbal exchange. The therapist will often assign homework to work on between sessions. Behavioral therapists focus on helping patients to learn how they can obtain more satisfaction from their own actions and how they can unlearn behavioral patterns that are contributing to or resulting from their depression.
Several different types of therapy have proven to be effective in confronting and overcoming severe depressive and anxious symptoms as antidepressant alternatives. Out of all the different therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy,13 interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy14 have been found effective and helpful. Each type of these therapies focuses on addressing different expressions of depressive problems. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is aimed at helping the patient to develop skills and coping mechanisms, as well as become aware of and rid of destructive and negative thoughts and behavior patterns. Interpersonal therapy focuses on maintaining healthy relationships and establishing a system of support. Psychodynamic therapy looks at the real underlying cause(s) of anxiety or depression, such as traumatizing events, repressed emotions, or social problems.
Acupuncture is another alternative treatment that has shown to be effective for depression.4 Medical acupuncture relieves pain, physically17 and emotionally.18 A weekly acupuncture treatment could be helpful to relieve stress, tension, and depression. Acupuncture and acupressure use direct pressure points that are believed to tap into the inner workings of your body. The acupuncturist uses the outside surface of the body to heal deep within. Massage therapy is a complementary alternative worth trying; where many people get a weekly massage to reduce stress, tension, and depression.19 Meditation and yoga are two healing therapies that can be practiced at home and meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime and these Lexapro alternatives can provide relief for depression and other symptoms.20,21 While the number of prescriptions written continues to rise, antidepressants do not cure depression. And their overuse may actually worsen psychiatric symptoms.22 At Alternative to Meds, we believe that holistic and psychotherapeutic interventions have a better chance to resolve what is causing the symptoms. These effective alternatives to Lexapro can allow constant growth and progress towards the desired level of mental health for life.
Individuals are often given Lexapro and other antidepressants prior to any investigation into why they are suffering from depression.6 The low-serotonin theory has limited diagnostic value and has never been substantiated, according to research published in the Journal of World Psychiatry. 23 There are many other factors contributing to depression that could have been checked. What about looking for environmental neurotoxins that destroy energy metabolism? 5 What about food allergies in which internal swelling may cause a slow metabolism? 24 Were these tested? Thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, and other hormonal issues may also be well worth investigating.25 And so on. Even in the common instance of an individual not ever being low serotonin in the first place, the medication itself can cause downregulation to develop.26 SSRI meds block the reuptake of serotonin, and serotonin is supposed for reuptake to be used again by the nerve cell. When serotonin is forced into the synapse it can cause receptors like the presynaptic 5-HT1a serotonergic receptors and the postsynaptic 5-HT2 serotonergic receptors to become less sensitive to the effects of serotonin.26
When a person stops taking Lexapro they may encounter Lexapro withdrawal and may suffer symptoms of anxiousness, sleeplessness, brain zaps, overstimulation, or even Tourette’s-like and OCD symptoms.28 This may occur because the body could be trying to readapt to neuroplastic changes that may have occurred in response to the drug.27 Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center aims to discover any medical reasons why an individual may be depressed. Our rehab program also includes lab testing, stabilization of neurochemistry through the use of natural substances, use of supplements that actually help create serotonin,29 careful Lexapro tapering, and withdrawal techniques, and targeted nutritional treatments such as amino therapy, yoga, massage, peer support, personal training, elimination of environmentally accumulated toxins, healthy microbiome support through cleansing and diet, and many other natural therapies for effectively combating depression. Please take time to review the amazing roster of treatments available at the center on our services overview page.
We invite you to give us a call and talk, so you can get an understanding of the comprehensive array of resources for Lexapro alternatives that are the backbone of our programs for natural mental health.
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Originally Published Nov 5, 2019 by Lyle Murphy
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.
Lyle Murphy is the founder of the Alternative to Meds Center, a licensed residential program that helps people overcome dependence on psychiatric medication and addiction issues using holistic and psychotherapeutic methods.