Been of citalopram for years, side effects

Posted , 7 users are following.

Hi......... years ago I started having panic attacks, I couldn't even leave the house, after getting a doctor to come to me they put me on citalopram. Within a week I was back to my old self, out and about, and with no side effects. I stayed on them for 5 years with no problems whatsoever (apart from weight gain) and I just kinda accidentally came off them, I forgot to take them for a couple of days and when I remembered I just thought oh well, might aswell stay off them.

I felt great, no panic attacks or anxiety, I lost all the weight I had put on and all was good. Until one day I had a panic attack in a shop, after that I kept feeling a bit anxious so I rushed back to the doctors and asked them to put me back on citalopram. Since then I have never felt very well, this was about 6 years ago and have been back and forth to the doctors telling them I don't feel well, I'm tired all the time, I get headaches, I feel really sluggish, I get dizzy spells and still get panic attacks. The doctors have put me on various meds.... but I never felt better with any of them so I asked to go back to citalopram as that one seemed the best one. I've been back on it for a couple of years now but I'm sick of feeling ill all the time! I've had blood tests and my heart checked etc and the doctors can't find anything wrong with me so I'm assuming it must be the meds. I've had enough now and I want my life back.... I'm sick of feeling ill all the time and I'm sick of sleeping the day away.

I want to come off the meds but I'm scared in case I feel worse, I'm on 20mg daily.... how should I taper down, I know it should be done slowly... but how slowly? Thanks for reading.... Gill

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  • Posted

    Hi Gill, well for a start it gives me hope that you lost weight after coming off citalopram. That is the reason that I have come off it. It is crap that you are feeling so ill at present. I was on citalopram for 2 years because of anxiety and it worked really great for me, no side affects and I would still be on it if it wasnt for the weight gain. I am 57 and for a while I thought it was due to menopause until 2 of my daughtres went on citalapram and gained weight as well! So, I have been completely off it for 1 week now. I was on 40mg and started tapering off 9 weeks ago. 40 -30, 30-20, 20-10, 10-5, about 2 weeks at each reduction and then 5-2.5 for a week and then off. I had all the usual side effects, vertigo and nausea first then aches in my limbs that I needed pain killers for, some free floating anxiety and laterly, a continious headache that I take rizamelt and mersyndol for and most recently, digestion problems which I have increased my omeprazole to help with that.

    Maybe I would have had less side effects if I had tapered off more slowly but my weight just kept going up and I wanted to just get done with it. I hope it all goes well with you no matter what you decide. I do know that it has been important for my close friends and family to know what is going on because of the side effects and having to take it easy and not push myself.


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    • Posted

      Thanks for ur reply Mary, I think weight gain is a side effect for everyone... I have read so many forums with people saying so.... good to hear that u are off it now and good luck with the weight loss x
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  • Posted

    Hi gillybean

    I've come off these meds twice, the first time I had withdrawal, and the second time I came really slowly, taking a year, and I had no withdrawal at all.  I've been off since last year.

    I did it by reducing by 5mg each time and went from 20 - 15 - 10 - 5 - 2.5 - 1.25.  I bought a pill cutter and cut the tablet into 4, and spent about 1-2 months on each reduction.  The last 2 doses I crushed to powder because I couldn't cut the last 5mg.  I had absoluely no withdrawl at all.  The previous time to that when I came off I'd reduced by 10mg each time and had nauseau, headaches and brain zaps.  I avoided them this time.

    Also since being off meds I'm now taking an over the counter one called 5-HTP and l-tyrosine.  5-HTP is reported to be as good as Prozac and yet it has none of those nasty side effects and you can start / stop without having to wean on / off.

    Having panic attacks / anxiety often comes about initially from stress - anxiety starts because your body has reached its full potential of stress and can't cope any more, so its natural response is to 'break down' because it wants a rest.  If this breakdown is accompanied by anxiety, many people then become scared of the anxious feeling and so get anxious about it, getting caught in the fear / anxiety / fear cycle.  This then further grows, producing emotional, mental and physical symptoms which in turn you then become afraid of, addind to the fear / anxiety / fear cycle and keeping you in it.

    In simple terms, your body has become sensitised, and in order to recover it needs to be desensitised.  Once desensitised anxiety and fear of it is no longer felt.

    I'll send you a link to a fabulous website which explains more about this.  It was written by a man who'd suffered for 10 years and how he overcame it without meds.  Its the same method I used (along with meds) years ago when I recovered.  Understanding what happens to your body was a tremendous relief to me, as it took a lot of the fear away.  The meds helped me recover along with this understanding.

    K x

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  • Posted

    Hi Gilly and Mary

    I have been on 20mg for 2 months know because of anxiety and panic attacks.The side effects were terriable but stuck with it. The anxiety is so much better and i dont get the sick feeling with anxiety much know either, so thats fab. But have an ongoing headache in my forehead and temples, Stiff neck on and off and tight shoulders.

    Although i am sleeping ok now it is a sleep that i have vivid dreams and am axious in my sleep so think this may be causing it. Fear the doctor will up the dose if i go back and then the dreams will be worse, or I go onto 10mg and my panic attacks come back. It is a horris circle. Either of you suffered with this???? Read Gilly you have headaches but did that happen on the meds ?? This drug is a mind field of confusion??? x


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    • Posted

      Hi Jayne. It is odd how for some people the side effect going on and coming off are somewhat the same. I had no side effects being on citalopram and I felt great, no anxiety and increased confidence. Just heavier!! However in coming off it, I certainly have the sore shouler/neck pain and bad headaches, I think it is because I get so tense, hold myself tight and only shallow breathe. I now have vivid dreams that I remember. The brain zaps have extended to me feeling them in other parts of my body and seem to be associated with moving and/ or thinking in a panicked way. So at the moment, I am drinking more water to try to flush out toxins, I am taking a herbal supplement for my liver and will try 5HTP in a few days if I dont improve.

      It really is a struggle eh and there are so many questions and not enough answers. And there doesnt seem to be one answer that fits all. And no one can advise you 'cause we are all in the same boat and can only give you our own experiences and hope you find enough support in that to get you through. I really hope you even out soon.


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    • Posted

      Thanks Mary

      It is so strange  we ahve the same things going on . I am 8 weeks into these meds and you are coming off. It makes me see that the symptoms are tension but dont want to keep uping my dose . Trying to sort with massage and yoga but a slog. Hope things start getting better for you very soon, it obviously is a ver powerful drug. and scary that this happens when we with draw, Take care.


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