Escitalopram, 11 pills almost 5 years ago (woman)

Welcome to our community. Please fill in the following template as a way of introducing yourself, and helping others to understand your background and situation.

Where are you from (country)? EU

How did you find this forum (Google search – if so, what search terms? Via link from a forum or website – if so, what page? Other?) PSSD forums

What is your current age, height, weight?
34, ca. 168 cm, 55 kg
What specific drug did you use (finasteride, dutasteride, saw palmetto, isotretinoin/Accutane, fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram, leuprorelin, etc…)?
escitalopram
What dose did you take (eg. 1 mg/day, 1 mg every other day etc.)?
5 mg/day
What condition was being treated with the drug?
personal life issues, prescribed incorrectly
For how long did you take the drug (weeks/months/years)?
3 weeks/11 pills
How old were you, and WHEN (date) did you start the drug?
29, March of 2015
How old were you when you quit, and WHEN (date) did you quit?
29, Apr of 2015
How did you quit (cold turkey or taper off)?
cold turkey
How long into your usage did you notice the onset of side effects?
about 2 days
What side effects did you experience that have yet to resolve since discontinuation?
PSSD, chronic fatigue syndrome, anhedonia/no motivation/loss of emotional range, cognitive issues
Check the boxes that apply. You can save your post first, then interactively check/uncheck the boxes by clicking on them. If your symptoms change, please update your list.

Sexual (please consider I’m woman)
[x ] Loss of Libido / Sex Drive
[x ] Erectile Dysfunction
[x ] Complete Impotence
Loss of Morning Erections
Loss of Spontaneous Erections
Loss of Nocturnal Erections
Watery Ejaculate
Reduced Ejaculate
[x ] Inability or Difficulty to Ejaculate / Orgasm
Reduced Sperm Count / Motility

Mental
[x ] Emotional Blunting / Emotionally Flat
[x ] Difficulty Focusing / Concentrating
[x ] Confusion
[x ] Memory Loss / Forgetfulness
[x ] Stumbling over Words / Losing Train of Thought
Slurring of Speech
[x ] Lack of Motivation / Feeling Passive / Complacency
Extreme Anxiety / Panic Attacks
[x ] Severe Depression / Melancholy
Suicidal Thoughts

Physical
Penile Tissue Changes (narrowing, shrinkage, wrinkled)
Penis curvature / rotation on axis
Testicular Pain
Testicular Shrinkage / Loss of Fullness
[x ] Genital numbness / sensitivity decrease
Weight Gain
Gynecomastia (male breasts)
Muscle Wastage
[x ] Muscle Weakness
Joint Pain
Dry / Dark Circles under eyes

Misc
Prostate pain
[x ] Persistent Fatigue / Exhaustion
[x ] Stomach Pains / Digestion Problems
Constipation / “Poo Pellets”
Vision - Acuity Decrease / Blurriness
Tinnitus (ringing or high pitched sound in ears)
Hearing loss
[x ] Increased hair loss
Frequent urination
[x ] Lowered body temperature

[x ] Other (please explain)

I had like 35+ symptoms after escitalopram (see details in my story)

What (if any) treatments have you undertaken to recover from your side effects since discontinuation of the drug?
only supplements, many/most withdrawal symptoms ceased
If you have pre or post-drug blood tests, what hormonal changes have you encountered since discontinuing the drug (please post your test results in the “Blood Tests” section and link to them in your post)?
hormones were out of whack after escitalopram, after it was normal but symptoms continued
Anything not listed in the above questions you’d like to share about your experience?

Tell us your story, in your own words, about your usage and side effects experienced while on/off the drug.

Copied from another page, my story @3 years out:

I am one of the many unfortunate persons who got a prescription for a life and minddestroying antidepressant for only a situational issue, a transient life problem, being
completely healthy and well-functioning young woman before this horrible
“medication”. I did not experience any benefits from it overall. I was always a
sensitive, emotional, intelligent person with fast thinking, excellent problem solving
and multitasking skills, excellent memory and analytical thinking, good creativity and
fantasy and with a successful career before all that was taken away from me by
psychiatry industry including my job, my career, my health, my brain function, my
skills, my financials, my private life, my sexuality, my future, everything.

My story started in January 2015. During a breakup with my boyfriend which was
(quite understandably) an emotionally a hard period for me, I went to a psychiatrist in
order to speak about my relationship issues. After only 4 occasions of speaking
therapy she gave me a prescription for generic escitalopram without giving me any
diagnosis whatsoever. She didn’t tell a word about possible side effects, let alone
about the risk of possible permanent damage this medication causes. She
prescribed me 10mg, but starting with 5 mg. I read the leaflet carefully, but the list of
side effect was relatively short. I only found out later it is because it’s extremely
deficient and misleading. Probability of sexual side effects was marked as
MAXIMUM 1% (which I found out later from decade old studies that it is in reality
about 80-90% or even more). No mention of permanent cognitive dysfunction,
memory issues, dementia, emotional blunting, neurotoxicity and toxic
encephalopathy, no mention of the induction of chronic fatigue syndrome and frontal
lobe damage, no mention of genital anaesthesia, no mention of PSSD (Post-SSRI
Sexual Dysfunction), no mention of protracted withdrawal syndrome or
antidepressant-induced chronic brain impairment (which is just a nicer name to
chemical brain damage)….

I took 5 mg for only a short 3 weeks time period. In total I took 11 of 10mg
escitalopram pills (in halves). First day I noticed my face was slightly swollen. I knew
this is a side effect and according to the leaflet I called the psychiatrist on the same
day. She told me this is “not due to the medication and keep taking it”. Literally
overnight on the 2nd or 3rd day of the treatment I lost completely my libido. I felt some
slight pain in my genitals and after that they went completely numb, I didn’t feel that I
have genitals anymore. It was like someone cut the nerve connection between my
brain and every erogenous part in my body. As a young woman, right at the age of
finding the right partner and forming a family this side effect wasn’t tolerable for me
at all, so I decided to stop this medication after 3 weeks. The psychiatrist wasn’t
opposed to it, as I didn’t need it in the first place.

3 weeks after stopping escitalopram absolutely nothing changed in the sexual side
effects. I had no libido, no sensitivity, no feeling, no sexual functioning, nothing. I
also felt very numb emotionally and started to experience severe withdrawal effects.
I called desperately the psychiatrist twice on phone and told her that the side effects
did not go away, and I can’t feel emotions properly anymore. She basically ignored
my first-hand experience, the response was again the well-known “it is not due to the
medication”. As I realized that she is totally incompetent regarding the effects of the
drug prescribed by her, I didn’t call her anymore. I started to experience about 30+
different debilitating withdrawal symptoms after the short 11 pills course of
escitalopram:

I lost completely the ability to feel any human emotion. I couldn’t feel love,
excitement, enthusiasm, desire, nothing. When I wanted to cry I felt a strange, strong
pressure in my head what made it impossible. I felt a pressure in my forehead area
0-24 which got stronger when I “tried” to feel any emotion or tried to think, as if that
part of my brain was completely dead, paralyzed and inaccessible. I lost my
fantasies, my creativity, my visual imagination, stopped dreaming at nights, my mind
became completely blank. I experienced severe cognitive and concentration
impairment (couldn’t process how to do simple things in my work anymore what I did
for years before, I couldn’t understand what I was reading or listening, had to reread every row 5x, 10x, but still couldn’t process it), got severe memory problems,
inability to focus on anything, slowed thinking, lost my planning and multitasking
functions, suffered constant mental tiredness and feeling of having dementia,
handshakes, severe and long-lasting chronic fatigue syndrome with constant
tiredness and extreme physical weakness and exhaustion, insomnia, irregular heart
beating, low blood pressure, very cold limbs and cold genital area, irregularities in
menstruation, constant nausea and dizziness, gastrointestinal issues, flu like
symptoms, inability of feeling hunger, weight loss, skin issues, extreme severe hair
loss known as telogen effluvium (like someone who went through chemotherapy, I
lost half of my hair in just 9 months after escitalopram poisoning). I felt that my brain
is barely awaken during the day, I had terrible brain fog every day. I also got severe
amotivational syndrome and total apathy as a direct consequence of losing my
human emotions. I noticed I can’t feel any effect from coffee and alcohol in my brain
anymore. I was terrified that I am completely and permanently brain damaged and
lobotomized. And in addition to the above, all sexual side effects continued.

At about 8 months mark of suffering multiple of the above listed unbearable
symptoms I wrote a letter to the psychiatrist explaining my SSRI-induced chronic
condition and asking her the original documentation of my “treatment”, what she
wasn’t able to provide. As a result of this chronic injury I lost the job what I absolutely
loved and my career, my financials, my health, and my life as I used to know. I went
to many doctors in the following 3 years: endocrinologists, psychiatrists,
gynecologist, cardiologists, neurologists, did several blood tests, hormone panels,
MRI, acupuncture sessions, massage sessions, sauna sessions for detoxifying,
hyperbaric oxygen treatments, spent a huge amount of money on these and on a
multitude of supplements and vitamins, which may could help, but I still have
persistent symptoms 3 years later. I was as well repeatedly humiliated by doctors,
blaming my symptoms on my original “condition”, in spite that I never had any
“original condition” like that in my life and the issues like genital anaesthesia are
exclusively known as SSRI-induced damage.

At 3 years mark apart from the permanent complete chemical castration - PSSD
(Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction) - I am still left with a kind of brain injury, I still
experience severe brain fog, slowed thinking, loss of cognitive functions, attention
and memory problems which is accompanied with dizziness, and frontal lobe
pressure as well as emotional blunting. I am officially part of an international PSSD
study, and the researcher said this syndrome is most likely caused by SSRI induced
neurotoxicity/toxic encephalopathy. I did a qEEG test around 2,5 years out which
shows significant slowing in all my frontal lobe (cognition, attention, planning,
memory) as well as limbic lobe area which is responsible for emotions and
somatosensory functions. The doctor who did the qEEG test confirmed that my result
is consistent with a traumatic brain injury or brain damage caused by micro injuries
(like in case of a toxic brain damage).

UPDATE: I’m now at about 4,5 years. PSSD feels unchanged. I still have significant chronic fatigue (had another toxicity which interferes) and loss of positive emotions/motivations.

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Not sure whether I can fill in the survey as a woman? If not please let me know. Thx

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Dear Janie,

first of all: Welcome to this forum! I am sorry to read your heartbreaking story. Many of us - men and women - can relate to your problems and the uselessness of the medical profession. We have decided to create awareness of and initiate research into this condition and have already had some success on the way. To achieve more, we have, among other things, created our survey.

Not only can you fill in the survey, your contribution will be particularly useful as women are far underrepresented on this forum as Finasteride is largely prescribed for conditions limited to men. But, as you have experienced yourself, this condition is not limited to one drug or one gender. It can be caused by various different drugs (who share anti-androgenic properties) and can be caused in both men and women. It’s very important for us to also describe the female perspective, so your contribution is highly appreciated!

You should receive an invite to the survey within the next 24 hours. Please let us know if you encounter any problems!

Thank you and good luck,
Northern Star

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Thank you for your kind answer! I will check the private mails.

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So that QEEG test and the doctor basically confirm that our condition is permanent

Hi, no.

The qEEG test just shows how the brain works at the moment (functional test). It does NOT say anything about the cause/underlying mechanism and/or prognosis.

I can tell you that I experienced significant improvements in cognition/fatigue/overall physical activity level at 3,5 years out. I could lead already a relatively active life (although still had some issues at work). It slowly improved during that time with many setbacks etc. I didn’t take any pharmaceuticals after escitalopram. I didn’t really notice change in PSSD.

Unfortunately had another toxic exposure after that which made my health much worse.

PS: I know about another woman who made improvement in PSSD between 3,5-4 years out. She said she improved to like 60%. She is out now for ca. 6-7 years and she is mostly ok, although she says she has some setbacks from time to time.

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Well that’s good to hear. I also had protracted withdrawal syndrome as well as pssd. The other withdrawal symptoms have improved but pssd remains pretty much the same. There are others who have made full recoveries from pssd ( you can find some of them on survivingantidepressants.org). Hopefully once we find the underlying problem, we can find ways to treat/improve the condition.

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This is very interesting. In case you are having problems at work maybe this test could be relevant for a possible disability. Did you talk about this with the doctor or can you still handle a normal job?

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It is not useful for disability as it is not good enough for diagnosis. At 3,5 years I could already handle a job “okish” (although with some difficulties in concentration, etc.). Regardless of being extremely sick, I worked almost the whole time… it was very exhausting

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BTW, is the international PSSD study you mentioned still taking place?

Do you still have dizziness and severe brain fog? It’s hard to tell from your post which items have improved and which have not

Not sure, I asked several times the author in email but he doesn’t respond. I don’t think that study is published.

I don’t have dizziness and brain fog now. But have fatigue what of course can affect cognitive capacities as well.

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I struggle with dizziness and some sort of weird visual perception issues along with other stuff. Your post resonated strongly with me, and I hope very much you recover to a point where you can live a normal life. You should proud of your self for working through this. I’m working as well and I know how hard it can be. You are a true warrior, don’t forget that.

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Unfortunately I had another neurotoxic exposure what made my health much worse (mostly physically). But I didn’t want to include in this post to avoid confusion. I think people are more sensitive to other toxins when they once had a bad reaction. I still hope I can get through this.

Dizziness improved for me by avoiding chemicals (perfumes, toxic cleaning stuff etc.), avoiding food intolerances, avoiding blue light and betain hcl also helped in that regard. Please research everything as I’ve heard someone got worse with that supplement. Now I didn’t have any dizziness for a while.

Would you mind sharing what you were exposed to so we can avoid it?

I also have had problems with some harsh chemicals (especially industrial paint), and was diagnosed by a doctor with “multiple chemical sensitivity”, which is quite a controversial diagnosis. He says that sensitivity to chemicals is a central sensitization illness in which the central nervous system overreacts to stimulus that cause no problems to most people, causing pain and/or neurologic problems. He told me that the reason of this overreaction is a long period of stress that includes an intoxication or bad experience with chemicals. According to his team it is quite common for people who have chemical sensitivity to also have CFS or Fibromyalgia.

On the other hand, the psychiatrist told me that this problems with chemicals were further proof of me having a delusional disorder :grin:

It’s undeniable that this disease is extemely complicated to understand.

Get comprehensive stool testing done and get sibo and other breath tests done. Sibo could be the cause of a lot of your problems like it was for me. I’m feeling a lot better you can recover from this if you discover any underlying health issues like that. I had food intolerances as well until i started getting treated for my sibo.

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If you had sudden food intolerances from taking an endocrine disrupting drug i’d be surprised if you didnt have sibo get checked for it when you can.