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Depression and Anxiety - possibly triggered by medication



Feb 6, 2021
Hello. About two weeks ago, I unwittingly took an expired Lexapro and began experiencing severe depressive mood swings, anxiety, and a desensitized sensation. I had to look up a name for what I was experiencing for the latter, and I found "derealization". I felt like I was in a fog, and I had trouble absorbing my surroundings. The derealization was uncomfortable and mildly disorienting, but it subsided after a few days.

For some background: I am on the spectrum but am high-functioning. I have taken Lexapro and Adderall for the past several years but have not been taking them as regularly in a few months since I am not in school at the moment. Two Sundays ago, while I was stressed going over some paperwork for my school, I took 1 expired Lexapro and experienced nausea and a headache, however it went away by the end of that day. Fast forward to that Saturday and I get hit with derealization and depression. I have never experienced something like this. I take Lexapro for anxiety, and have never really gone through a serious, prolonged bout of depression.

The depression has decreased in severity over the past several days, although my symptoms seem to be flatlining in a way, not getting worse or better, but still in the back of my mind. I keep ruminating over past memories, lamenting decisions I've made, dwelling on negative thoughts, and most of all, feeling a profound sadness over the thought I've never really connected with anyone on a deep, personal level. I get anxiety over hypothetical situations where I have to be in public or out and about, which hasn't happened to me in years. Thinking of the city or even sunsets, makes me anxious and slightly uncomfortable. Then I get a moment of clarity, where I feel relatively fine and optimistic, only to wake up the next morning feeling depressed. I don't have suicidal thoughts, which I'm glad. Usually I get a moment of normality at least once a day, though today I did not really have that, which worries me slightly.

My doctors seem to think it has nothing to do with ingesting expired medication, though I find it odd that I experienced these symptoms that are more or less related with exactly what Lexapro is supposed to treat. All my symptoms seem to fall under SSRI withdrawal, from what I've looked up. Could it be the social isolation due to Covid, or a combination of both? I really don't know what else could have triggered this, as I was feeling well and normal before this whole ordeal began. I finally got a proper refill of my medication and have been on it for a few days, thought it'll take a little longer for me to possibly feel any change. I hope it helps. I'm worried and anxious that the expired meds triggered something in my brain and it won't be an easy fix. I'm having trouble enjoying things like reading books or listening to music. My family has started to notice. I'm feeling so alone. My doctors have not been super helpful and were reluctant to prescribe me anything, instead referring me to therapy, which I planned to do anyway. Only after some prodding, did they finally prescribe me the Lexapro. My biggest fear is that these have been my true feelings all along, and the medication has been suppressing them, and now that I'm going through withdrawal, they're coming out stronger and fresher.

I'm reaching out because my therapy isn't for another couple of weeks, and I can't wait that long. I was hoping if anyone had a similar experience with derealization, or an anti-depressant or spoiled/expired medication that created severe side effects. Is my depression exaggerating my feelings? Any help, advice, or coping mechanisms are greatly appreciated.
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