Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms

Yes, headaches too.
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. I'm a regular guy who got nailed with all the nasty symptoms of citalopram withdrawal. Please consult your doctor before you start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine. Really.

Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms

Discontinuing citalopram or any SSRI is a delicate process and should be taken seriously. Some of the commonly listed symptoms that may occur when you discontinue citalopram hydrobromide (AKA Celexa®) include, but are not limited to:

Irritability
Agitation
Dizziness
Burning or tingling sensation
Anxiety
Confusion
Headache
Insomnia
Tiredness

I think, based on the testimonies of others and my own experiences, the following should be added:

Vague body aches and pains
"Electric jolts" or "brain zap" - You probably know what I mean!
Flu-like symptoms
Restless Legs
Funny Feeling In Teeth (Teeth On Edge...?)


Usually the symptoms decrease over time until they disappear, but there is no hard and fast rule for how long the symptoms take to go away. I have heard of them lasting a few days. I have also heard of them lasting six months.

If you are planning on coming off citalopram, you will want to wean off slowly to minimize your risks. Talk to your doctor first. If withdrawal symptoms are severe, you may need to return to the former dosage and then wean off over a longer duration.

22 comments:

  1. I have all of those symptoms mentioned above. Thanks for putting together this list, it's good to know that all these things are related to one core problem. I'll still go get checked out, but this eases my mind a little.

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  2. Hi, I started to try and come off Citalopram by taken half a 10 mg tablet for about a month and felt so ill and now have gone up to the 10 mg tablet and would like to try weaning my self of this awful tabletany suggestions and help? would be grateful


    Lesley.

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    1. to get off Celexa, you have to wean down to 5mg every other day. With Citalapram, it's not so much the mg amount as it is the half-life in your neurons...about 36 hours and your body wants it again. The easiest way to 'FOOL' your brain cells that it has the celexa is to give it zoloft once after waiting 3 days of no celexa. That will be it...you're done. Myself and others I've told to try this have all had great results. I've started and stopped it three times iver the past 7 years - all when no other method would allow me to stop taking it.

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  3. Hi all -

    I'll tell ya my story first and then give you a few helpful hints and useful information below.

    Here's my story so far: I was once on 20mg. I then came down to 15mg by alternating 20mg and 15mg every other day for three weeks before just taking 15mg. It was still really hard and I had to stay really motivated. I felt so many of the miserable side effects listed on this website. I took a break from going down any more at that point. A few months later I used a pill cutter (that you can usually get for free from your pharmacy) to alternate between 15 mg and 12.5 mg every other day for three weeks until going to just 12.5mg (1 and 1/4 pill). It was still really hard, but slightly better, but I again chose to take a break. The last 3 weeks I have been alternating between 12.5mg and 10mg and am just getting ready to go to 10mg every day. Again, there have been some hard days, but it's doable.

    One thing that REALLY helps is getting a little exercise when you start feeling horrible. Even if it means just going outside and taking a 10 minute brisk walk so that your heart is pumping a bit. This naturally raises serotonin levels in the brain (which is what citalopram/celexa does). It really helps! Research shows that exercise is as effective, if not MORE effective than these medications at reducing depression and anxiety . . . with out all of the side effects! While it can be hard to get motivated to exercise, if you look at it as medication in itself, then it starts to become easier. =)

    It should be a requirement for doctors to communicate the severe withdrawal side effects and let patients know how difficult it can be to come off of it. =( That way we could make an informed decision before taking it!

    Also to note - Prozac is a medication/drug that is in the same class as Citalopram/Celexa, HOWEVER, it does not have the same severe withdrawal effects! This is because it has what is called a longer half life, which essentially means that it slowly leaves your system. (You should still taper off of it to completely avoid the less severe side effects though!) I tell you this because if you ever feel like you need a little extra help down the road, give this one a try. That's my plan.

    Finally, I am not a doctor and I agree that everyone should check with their doctor . . . I am, however, a psychology student who has done a lot of research on the subject.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Angela

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  4. Just want to offer some encouragement to those going through withdrawal from Citalopram. I had been taking Citalopram for over 5 years, 40 mg, for depression and anxiety due to the deaths of several members of my immediate family in a short period of time. I weaned off of the 40 mg within a 2 week period in February, and suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms. Anxiety, irritability, crying, whooshes, back ache, nightmares, and even the feeling of wanting to claw my eyes out! Out of desperation, I went back on 10 mg daily to stabilize the symptoms. It took me until June 30th to get the courage to once again stop taking the drug. I've now been 17 days Citalopram-free and am happy to report that I feel better than I have in years! The past two weeks had some anxiety, a panic attack, neck pain, insomnia, some mild depression, and worst of all the whooshes. Most of these symptoms have disappeared after 2 weeks. The only symptom remaining now is what I refer to as whooshes, a sensation that I can hear my eye lashes blink, and hear wind when I turn my head from side to side. This occurs several times a day; but decreasing each day. My energy level has increased tremendously, I no longer feel like I'm in a fog, I have started listening to music again (haven't done this in years), feel like playing the piano again, want to resume hobbies, and my libido has returned!
    The withdrawal period was horrible, but I am blessed with a supportive and understanding husband that helped me through each day, along with strong faith in our Lord. To all of you suffering through withdrawal, I wish to give you hope and encouragement that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are brighter days in your future! This website has been very helpful to me during the past month. Especially a post by "Cath" on June 21st, where she stated "Might just try to accept the drawbacks of depression and give myself a little more patience and kindness instead of honking down pills." I try to practice this daily. My life is definitely better without Citalopram; with or without depression! Stay strong, you will feel better with time.

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    1. Just want to thank you for your post. I'm having a really rough time coming of Cipramil - insomnia, restlessness (probably one of the worse symptoms), irritability, anger, crying (actually bawling my eyes out while I'm typing this). Point it, your post gives me hope in a time when I really need it and for that I am extremely grateful. Am taking a screen shot of your post and will be reading it every day, as many times as is needed. xx

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  5. Ive been taking 40mg and on friday i stopped, have been feelin a little dizzy and have tingles thru my body but its nothing major, i'm just wonderin, is it really a bad idea to refuse to take it like this, could it be dangerous?

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  6. As we have said often on the site, weaning off slowly with your doctor's approval is the way to come off citalopram. Do NOT simply discontinue the drug, or you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, as have so many others. While some come off cold turkey and seem fine, many others have serious withdrawal issues. Take your time coming off the drug, and be careful.

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  7. Hi,
    I have just come across this site and it's great. I have been suffering for a while now with bad anxiety and my doctor increased my Citalopram dose from 20mg to 40mg. This made me feel worse. Then I went to another doctor who said I would be weened off over 3 weeks and go on Venlafaxine instead because it might be better for my anxiety problem. Coming down from 40mg to the original 20mg made me feel better (I guess that's what my body has got used to over the past couple of years). But going down to 10mg has made me feel terrible. Tired, irritable, anxious, with a tight head (feels like my scalp is being stretched) and I feel like I'm not really here, kind of dazed. This change took place in the 36-48 hours following my change in dose from 20mg-10mg when I was otherwise doing ok. What I'm trying to establish is...if this is Citalopram withdrawal or just a coincidence and just still my anxiety. Am I underestimating the impact of increasing Citalopram from 20-40 and then back down to 10 within the space of 6 weeks? Should I expect this? Thanks.

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  8. Hello, my doctor originally had me taking xanax on an "as needed" basis based on my AD symptoms. After a few weeks he started me on a daily citalopram med and specifically mentioned that his decision was based on the fact that citalopram does not have the horrible withdrawal symptoms compared to a drug like xanax. I have been using citalopram for 8 months and found the need for xanax to be minimal. I decided to go cold turkey on the citalopram last week and just started experiencing the horrible side effects mentioned above.

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  9. I've just started tapering off 40 mg about a month ago. My dr wanted me to take 40 mg for two weeks, 20 mg for a week, 20mg every other day for seven days then stop. I felt that was too fast for me. I decided to do 40mg for a two weeks, 30 mg for two wks. I just started 20 mg and I am on my first week. Some days I feel good, some days I have axiety. Today is one of those days. I've been getting hot easily as well as irritated. It hasn't been extremely bad or on a daily basis. I have one more week before I start 10 mg. I will keep you posted.

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  10. Two years ago, my Dr switched me from Prozac to Citalopram because I needed a less expensive AD. On Jan 1 of 2013, I started weaning myself off of Citalopram. I cut down from 40mg to 20mg for three weeks and had no problems. Then I cut down to 10mg for four weeks, again no problems. On Feb 21, I stopped the drug altogether. I have withdrawal symptoms: dizziness, fatigue, sweats, fever, irritability, night terrors. Yesterday was day 10 of being off the drug, I felt the flu coming on...but it was just another symptom, and I felt fine this morning. Day 11 I still have dizziness, nausea and fatigue. This site has been helpful and encouraging. I look forward to feeling normal and will never use Citalopram again. Dealing with anxiety and depression has to be easier than facing Citalopram withdrawal. If you need it, use it. But know the facts. Thanks everyone for posting your experiences.

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  11. Just found this thread while researching withdrawals from Celexa. I've been on 10mg for 5+ years. I stopped cold turkey 1 week ago. I am unsure if the feelings are withdrawal from the medication or the anxiety is coming back.
    I'm going to stick it out as I don't see anyone saying the withdrawals or the anxiety will kill me.
    I'm drinking as close to a gallon of water a day as I can and I'm taking a multi-vitamin, Vitamin C and Fish Oil supplement daily. Also yoga and meditation daily.

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  12. OMG THIS HAS BEEN SO HARD FOR ME AS I HAVE BEEN ON CITILAPRAM FOR 11 YEARS. Irritability, Dizziness, Anxiety, Confusion, Insomnia sort off I can to get sleep just cant stay asleep, Tiredness, mood swings, feeling low, emotional, anger, nasty, could rip someone's head off or even my own.
    I have come down from 30mg citalopram over 3 months period and its been 3 weeks now without any at all, as you can see it not nice and have been very tempted to start taking them again. I will not be beaten so I will solider on I will post again in one week with an update. Jackie x

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  13. Hey all, thank u for your candid comments.
    Have been on citalopram 20mg for a good few years like Jackie, tho related to secondary depression and anxiety from ME. Peri-menopausal symptoms last year prompted an increase to 40mg. Now trying to reduce back to 20mg and taking 40/30/40 etc. Very fatigued and having palpitations on occasion. However, has anyone had a kind of out of body experience with the head shocks? An external stimulus triggers a deja-vu type experience where you feel an altered sense of consciousness for about 10 seconds, a sense of familiarity in reliving the sensations of a dream, and accompanied with a tingling/hot sensation beginning over your scalp...like someone pouring hot water over you...and ending with tingling/palpitations in the chest. NOT a panic attack per se, as no feeling of heaviness/feeling like going to die....but VERY unpleasant. Persevering, and ensuring I do this gradually....just hard to differentiate withdrawal from generalised ME symptoms. Thank u, L.

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  14. I have been taking 20Mg's Citalopram for 6years 1 a day , Sadly I lost 2 weeks worth ...Doctors are useless I told them what happened that I lost them in the home and still I had to contact the police to get a "crime number" before the docs would act ... So that is what I did and this is 3 days ago on the Friday it's now Monday I call the doctors and nothing has been done what so ever I have now been without my tablets for 8 days , I have to call the docs tomorrow to see if the doctor has signed the prescription , I explained I have not had any meds for other a week but she did not say anything .... I am not feeling to bad just the body shocks and feeling hot and vivid dreams and breaking out in sweets in my sleep .. I am considering going cold turkey as I am feeling very frustrated , Has anyone ever done this ?!

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  15. Thank you for this. I'm crying while writing this. I was on 20 milligrams Of citalopram then started cutting them in half for about a month and now it's been 9 days and I'm so glad I read all these just so I know that I'm not the only one feeling like this. I have insomnia when I do sleep I have wild vivid dreams and I definitely have the dizziness and shakes. But I'm counting the days and hoping this will end soon.the only positive thing about this is I have lost 10 pounds just because I'm not hungry and when I am I'm trying to eat healthy and trying to walk on my treadmill more. I am praying that this will come to an end and now that I read all these other blogs I will be praying for them also. Thank you again

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  16. I came here to read if anyone was experiencing these symptoms.

    Feel much better now xxx

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  17. I had been on citralopram for 1 month when it caused severe gastric problems. Doc weaned me down in 1 week and put me on welbutrin. I immediately developed limb twitching, dizziness so severely I couldn't walk, brain zapping, just to name a few symptoms. Doc says stop welbutrin for a week and see if the symptoms get better, If not its withdrawl and we need to go back on citralopram. How am I supposed to do that when it gives me constant violent diarrhea?

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  18. I stopped taking Celexa at the beginning of the month with no real issues until this past week. About 14-days after not taking the drug, I feel completely ill. I have fallen down the stairs, sprained my ankle. This happened a week ago and my hip still looks like ground meat. I am tasting something metallic. I drink lots of water and eating foods to produce seratonin. I am still so sick. I sleep all the time, have no energy to do anything. I keep having this feeling that I am on an elevator. I feel motion sickness. Let me off this ride!!!! My dreams are super vivid and I am completely active during my sleep. I wake up in night sweats. I am thinking of going to the Urgent care as it is the weekend to get a small prescription until I can get into see me doc.

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  19. 6 weeks off and over the dizziness and brain zaps. Just feel exhausted and so low. Don't know if still withdrawal or if depression returning. Hate being this person

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