Citalopram....Ugh.

Posted , 6 users are following.

First time posting, and it's a long one...

Towards the end of November ('17), after experiencing increased anxiety/panic attacks for several months, I went to my Dr in tears and he prescribed 20 mg Citalopram. He cautioned that I might experience some nausea, and if I wanted to stop to call him first, don't just pitch the meds.

Never taken an SSRI (or anything remotely close to it) before, so of course there was literature that came with the med and I carefully read every word. Absolutely flipped out when I saw the warning about suicide, and it's been straight downhill from there.

1. Never before, in the history of ever, have I had intrusive thoughts of ANY kind. Have them now with varying degrees of frequency, freaking out, and cold sweats.

2. I *thought* I was only experiencing anxiety; however, during the teary conversation with my Dr, he casually mentioned depression. Well, if I wasn't depressed before I likely am now. Feeling hopeless, thoughts about what's the point, I'm never going to get past this, etc. Received a wonderful (late) Christmas card from a dear friend yesterday, a fun family update, and it sent me spiraling. That would have never happened six weeks ago.

3. Recently read about the (small) heart-related risk associated with Citalopram. Well, I have two heart murmurs and frequently experience heart palpitations (usually tied to hormone fluctuations). Called my cardiologist, wondering if I should be concerned, and now scheduled for an ECG.

4. (Too much) research on 'Dr. Google' has helped me understand that symptoms may get worse before they begin to improve. Coming up on seven weeks, and absolutely not enjoying this experience. At. All.

Anxiety is worse, definitely concerned about the depression piece, zero appetite (nearly 15 lbs lost), experiencing new symptoms of overwhelming fear, now afraid to be by myself or to go places. Suddenly anything I 'perceive' to be negative/sad/scary increases the panic, no interest in watching tv or listening to music, and it's taking a toll on my ability to work.

Since I started the Citalopram in November, I've only made it to work for weeks 2-3 of the medication. Beginning of the 4th week I suddenly experienced a severe "blip", and have remained at home ever since. Now just thinking of going to work throws me into a panic because of the thoughts...not something I want to have to battle in my office for eight hours everyday.

My Dr who initially prescribed the Citalopram retired at the end of '17 (excellent timing). I did meet with my/the new Dr mid-December (after three weeks on Citalopram), talked to her about the thoughts and increased anxiety. She seemed concerned, said they were side effects, if it got worse go to the ED; however, didn't offer to make any changes. Said to give the meds six weeks, and we'll go from there.

So here I am, 6.5 weeks and counting, an intrusive thought/depressed/no appetite/semi-sleep deprived/scared to be alone/go to work mess. My next appointment with the Dr is over a week away; however, I've asked to be placed on their on-call list should an appointment open up sooner.

Any relief from anxiety usually comes in the evening, then I can calmly read the negative/sad things/listen to music. Sleep is so-so.

I understand these meds take time to build up in your system, but I truly expected to feel some consistant improvement, or relief from these side effects (especially the thoughts!) by now. I find myself resenting taking the pill each morning knowing I'm going to still feel like crap.

I do not like what this medication is doing/has done in the last 6.5 weeks, and want to stop. I have already asked the Dr's office what they recommended for tapering (thanks to boards like this, it's too fast). While I know there are many other ADs available to try, I am pretty discouraged by this experience. If I'm honest, I don't know that I have it in me to try another med, that may take weeks to see improvment, with more side effects, and no guarantee.

All that to say:

1. Less then two months on 20 mg, how might be the best way to taper? Should I expect the bad withdrawl symptoms?

2. Will the thoughts go away or, now that I've become aware such things can happen, am I going to be stuck with them?

3. Might the depressive symptoms dissappear as well?

4. I remain open to suggestions for low side effects/quicker acting alternatives to Citalopram. Open, but not super enthusiastic.

I should also mention that I am seeing a therapist, had my thyroid checked twice (anxiety/sudden weight loss = hyperthyroidism??), have a supportive husband, etc.,...so I'm not slogging through this alone, and I keep searching for answers.

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    I've skimmed through your thread. First of all, I understand your situation. I go to university, well 'go' is probably misleading because I haven't been in a long time due to the symptoms associated either with my anxiety, or the side effects from the tablets. I've been on 10mg, 20mg, 30mg over 8-9 weeks. So don't feel you are alone in this! I still have intrusive thoughts, still don't feel I can manage a day out of my house.

    I'll try and answer with my thoughts (although I'm a bit of a newbie at this too!)

    1. From what I've heard, you will get withdrawal symptoms. I believe they are worse than the side effects when you first started however they don't last long. Unlike other anti-depressants you can't 'addicted' to them so you don't get. SERIOUS withdrawal effects. I assume it's like coming down with the flu or something for a couple of weeks. However, again, I'm unsure. to be honest I've been told 6 weeks is quite early on, so you might want to stick with it.

    2. I hope so! That's what I'm taking them for. The idea is that as your body gets used to the tablets, your intrusive thoughts shall decrease. Good luck.

    3. I've read somewhere that those with depression require a lower dose than those with anxiety. Therefore an uplifting of mood should be noticed first.

    4. I don't know if there are. It takes time. I tell myself that it took me almost 8 years to develop this bad anxiety. Therefore I can't expect it to work in 8 weeks (for me). Yet I hope.

    Good luck! Hope this helps.

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  • Posted

    Hi there! 

    I’ve just started my 4th week on 20mg. At first I noticed a big change in my low mood, however my anxiety and depression has got so bad the last week.

    My intrusive thoughts are scaring me so much, trying to keep them under control as much as I can. (Very hard) 

    I have a survey about intrusive thoughts that my CBT therapist sent me, I’ll send it to you if you’d like smile 

    The survey was on 300 people with no mental health issues and the thoughts they get. It just proves that we ALL get the thoughts, however our anxiety set so off and feed off us being scared (after an intrusive thought) 

    I hope it gets a lot easier for you! 

    Good luck. You can do it smile 

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  • Posted

    Hi I am in a similar boat as you! I have only been on it for 5 weeks and started off with 5 then 10 now 15. I had some nausea and terrible sleep. The nausea is now gone and so is the sleep disturbances. At every dose increase I had heightened anxiety and depression. I  some of the brain fog has lifted and I feel disoriented 60% of the time. But I get periods of feeling back to myself. I suggest sticking with them. I too have had to take a leave from work otherwise I would get let go due to poor work performance. Hang in there we can go through this together. 
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  • Posted

    Hi Ann and to those in the same situation. I was in exactly the same position a year ago, all the same symptoms, intrusive thoughts, couldn’t leave the house, didn’t want to be alone, sickness, weight loss, insomnia...you name it I had it all!!! Felt desperate and didn’t know how I could live like it as I couldn’t see and end in sight. I was put on citalopram for anxiety but boy things got worse once I started to take them! I googled far too much, read every side effect and used to be on this forum trying to find someone to tell me things would be ok! Well here it is......YOU WILL BE!! I started on 10, then increased to 20,30 and finally settled on 40mg. I can honestly say although it’s a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone to begin with a year on I have no anxiety at all! I’ve changed my job after 17 yrs, flown (which I never would have done) and when anxious for any reason it’s at an acceptable level for me. It took about 12 weeks from starting them to feeling much better, evenings started to get better and I decided to try to help things along by going to a meditation class which helped me hugely. You are not alone in this as you can see there’s so many of us out there to help and support you. Please try and stick it out if you can, stop googling and if you want to talk, we’re all here.  X
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