Citalopram withdrawal. Please advise on symptoms.

Edited , 32 users are following.

Hello. I need some advise pls. I started taking citalopram 10mg 18 months ago for health anxiety. I went 'cold Turkey last Wednesday so 7 days ago. I was feeling a lot better and I felt the time had come to stop. Since Saturday I have been having awful falling/whooshing sensations in my head and feel weak and dizzy. Is this because I stopped and how long will this last? I'm feeling very anxious about it.

1 like, 144 replies

Report / Delete

144 Replies

Next
  • Posted

    I was only taking 10mg for 6 days, then 20 mg for another 14 days before I couldn't take the side effects any longer... I weened back down to 10mg for 4 days and then completely stopped.  It's only been 5 days off them and I can barely make it through a day.  My head feels off, numb, tingly throughout my body, extreme anxiety causing insomnia.  It's absolutely awful, so I too would love to know how long before these side effects go away.  I'm so scared that this has become permanent.

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    These meds should never be stopped abruptly - many people find their withdrawal symptoms last many, many months ..... 6 months and beyond at times and then have to reinstate meds.  It can be a shock to your body resulting in the anxiety / depression in returning.

    I came off these last year and spent a year coming off by the minimal about, each reduction lasting 1-2 months.  I had no withdrawal that way.

    The whooshing feelings in your head are called brain zaps.

    These are serious meds and not to be played with I'm afraid.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      HI,

      I agree that these drugs should not be taken lightly and for the sake of "Business as usual" a weaning off period may be the most appropriate regime for some or most people. 

      This does not suit everyone and I have read many accounts of people who have stopped abruptly and it has worked for them. 

      So far stopping abruptly has worked for me and I continue to move forward daily and hope that I have done the right thing, time will tell.

      Has anyone come across any data which shows that weaning off over a long period of time leads to a greater chance of long term success.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Yes I’ve read many reports on this plus seen many people go through this.  Quitting meds abruptly or too quickly can actually be life threatening and can cause a relapse.  Stopping medication abruptly can set back your treatment plan and It can increase the time it takes to feel better or it can actually cause your symptoms to worsen.

      Often just suffering a bad withdrawal can drag you down and set off a relapse.

      Everyone of course is different though the majority of people will suffer from withdrawal.

      Something else to consider is that often returning to meds is a whole new experience even though you’ve taken them before - and that goes for withdrawal too.  Different side effects and withdrawal and It can take longer second time around.

      After spending months, often years, on meds and recovering from something so horrific as this condition then why jeopardise all that good that’s been done by being too rash.  Play safe and never risk undoing all that good.

      You got lucky ... maybe ..... 

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I wouldn't say I have been lucky, I have suffered alot to be where I am today. I also prepared as much as I possibly could for withdrawing abruptly. I took time off of work, am currently going through talking therapy, changed my diet as well as many other things including mentally preparing myself for a difficult time. I am not out of the woods by a long way just taking every day as it comes and hoping that tomorrow is better than today.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Oh so the stopping abruptly wasn't so successful for you...I have never read or talk to someone that stopping these meds abruptly was successful...and I talk to everyone one in the waiting area at my phychiatrist...

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I guess that depends on how you measure success, I would argue that it has been successful. I expected things to be bad and they were, I expected to start feeling a bit better after a while and I do. I am not on here to challenge anyone's experience I believe that all of our journeys have been difficult. I am merely relating my experience and my hopefully continued road health.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      We are here to comfort not to challenge ..but we also don't want to confuse other members...yes because we are all chemically different ..so I would agree your experience has been within the norm...

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      We are here to comfort not to challenge ..but we also don't want to confuse other members...yes because we are all chemically different ..so I would agree your experience has been within the norm...

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I mean lucky you've got off so lightly.  Everyone is different as another person may have serious problems if going cold turkey.  Doing it slower you wouldn't have experienced any of the dizziness or brains zaps.  

      Hope it goes well though and let us know how you get on wink

      K x

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Just to clarify my position I do not in any way advocate going cold turkey. Take it slowly and prepare. My experience was the way I chose to do it but the benefits of doing it gradually have been overwhelminly sited on this forum.
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Ah ok ..... just that I read your other post saying you had gone cold turkey 2 months ago.  But seriously, I'm glad its worked for you and hope you continue to improve.

      K x

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I know we talked awhile ago and I have been trying to not reinstate the drugs..I have had a few days where the symptoms are better but the last 2 days my legs feel literally numb..this is sooo scary..am I crazy? Is this normal? Should I reinstate the drug to get rid of these awful symptoms?
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Rebecca, sorry to hear of your terrible symptoms. I am not sure that there is  a norm when it comes to symptoms, everyones experience seems similar but different. 

      I stuck it out and did not reinstate but your symptoms sound a lot worse than what I went through and I was always prepared to reinstate if I needed to.

      I reallly hope that you start to feel better whatever you decide to do.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hey Kate. I took Citalopram for 9 days and gave up on it and stopped cold turkey as my doc advised. After a couple days I was depressed and anxiety was all time high. Fought yhis for a month and gave in to go back on meds. I'm now 3 weeks in really want off this drug after new years. were my feelings part of withdrawal after just 9 days? Best way to wean now? I take 20mg

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      hi

      thats a strong reaction after 9 days

      everyone is differant in their reactions though

      i would never go cold turkey on this drug

      but have got some years experience too like katecogs

      I know of people who have done that and been ok...

      Of course it could also have been the anxiety etc returning that was the reason you went on it in the first place..,,

      You cant just go on and off this drug

      it takes 4-12 weeks even longer to feel the benefit and stabilze

      you may need to take it a good six month before you taper down

      my experience is that should be done very very slowly using a pill cutter and reducing by 2.5 mg every two weeks or so

      It took me a year from 20 mg

      However i am back on it

      i accept i need the seratonin levels

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Durby

      Agree with Gillian, that was quite a strong reaction to only being on the meds for 9 days.

      Why did you stop after such a short time? They are quite tough meds to take and everyone will experience heightened anxiety and other side effects to start with on them, but that does ease off after some weeks. Best way is to start small ie 5mg for some weeks and ease up by 5mg each time to the required dose. These meds take many, many months before you feel any benefit - took me 6 months to recover.

      However, as you’re wanting to come off them, again I agree with Gillian that you need to do this really slowly, again by 5mg (or as Gillian said maybe even 2.5mg) each decrease (that’s how it best worked for me). Stay on each 5mg for 3-4 weeks before reducing again etc until you’re down to the last 5mg. I then crushed my last dose and took 2.5mg and finally 1.25mg.

      You’ll need a pill cutter / crusher.

      You can’t stop and start these meds like you would antibiotics etc., as they need to stabilise in your body (going up or down).

      Don’t expect to be off them completely by the New Year - give yourself time. There should never be any rush to come off these. If you rush then you’ll make yourself ill.

      Hope that helps.

      K x

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I took citalopram for 21 days. Worst decision of my life. I started at 10mg for about a week, then increased to 20mg for another 2 weeks before I couldnt take the side effects any longer... I weaned back to 10mg for another week then stopped altogether. Within one week, I had major anxiety, severe brain zaps, extremely panicking thoughts, fearful thoughts, suicidal thoughts, confusion, sexual dysfunction, severe tingling from the waist down, head pressure.... urgh..

      Its now been a year and half since i stopped completely, and I'm still going through hell. Some of the symptoms have gone away, but the debilitating ones are there every day. Extreme panicky thoughts every day, fearful thinking, head pressure which feels like a wet blanket on my head constantly. I did not experience any of these symptoms in my life ever, and I Absolutely blame citalopram for destroying my quality of life. My Dr denies it all and blames it on stress and anxiety from my divorce. I was perfectly normal before taking this stuff, and I fear everyday Ive ruined my life and will never feel the same again.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Oh sorry, no I was just generally talking about how long it takes to settle on the meds when you want to continue with them.

      I suppose you can either stay on the meds and wait a little while before starting to withdraw, or start withdrawing now if you want to come off as soon as. if you're sensitive to these meds then its wise to take it slow if you want to avoid any side effects. You only get withdrawal when you come off meds too quick or drop by too much. A few weeks or a month will be too quick too.

      Always speak to your doctor too so they know where you're at with them.

      K x

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thanks gor rrplying Kate. I prefer to stay on until after Christmas. Dont want to deal with any negative effects as I'll be busy. I statted tthis medicine for anxiety. I don't have depression. So you're saying to taper slowly and I agree. It's only been 3 weeks but I still agree to taper. How would you suggest to taper after such a short time? Thanks Kate for all your help thus far

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      i agree with kate

      YOU cannot just take this fir over christmas

      it doesnt work like that

      yep i got down to 1.25 mg alternate nights in the end

      I had no side effects at all

      i was very very strict about small reductions

      I had a spreadsheet

      Thats why it took a year

      I HAD HAVE Generalized Anxiety Disorder too

      when that gets out of hand it can lead to a clinical depression

      you have to commit to stay on these drugs for 6 months minimum

      or taper off now

      in very small amounts

      whatever you do youmust employ self help skills exercise healthy eating being kind to yourself

      You need to create your own self help

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thanks gillian. I was going to continue through Christmas so I wouldnt be dealing with possible wiyhdrawal effects then start tapering. You say I should stay on these minimum of 6 mos? wouldn't it be harder to taper off then? thanks again

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Yes best to wait until after 😉 and yes, its really best to taper slowly. However long you've taken meds its always good to taper.

      When I was on 20mg and withdrew I cut my tablets into 1/4's making each one 5mg. I then went from 20 / 15 / 10 / 5 / 2.5 / 1.25 / 0 spending around 4-6 weeks on each dose. I don't think you'd need to spend that long on each dose as you've only taken them for 3 weeks, so maybe try 2-3 weeks on each reduction? Test the waters as you go - try 15mg for a few weeks and then move to 10mg - if you don't feel too good then go back to 15mg for a few more weeks.

      Withdrawal (discontinuation) symptoms are usually nausea, brain zaps (little harmless head buzzes), dizziness, headache, aches and pain.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Kate thank you. Christmas is gone and Ive decided to stay with yhe Cit until I feel I have recovered. Every day is getting better(5weeks now). I still have some social anxiety, but much better than it was. I feel better knowing you and gillian are willing to give advice as youve been through this. I'm still tired and sleepy all the time and can't go to bed before 1am. Maybe it would help if I take tablet in mornings? I normally take around 7 pm. What would be the best process to do this change? Thanks again Ms Kate

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      glad your feeling better

      the firsttime on cit i took it at bedtime around 11 pm

      second time i did that again

      such was my side effects insomnia that i moved it over two days to on waking

      i knew deep down that the insomnia goes but we all want sleep !

      am not sure to be honest once its in your system if it makes a lot of differance when you take it as long as its at same time

      now l take it between 8am and 9

      whenever i wake

      i get it out at bedtime

      place it on a little dish by the bed

      a routine thing

      7 pm sounds a funny inconvenient timr to me

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Glad that each day gets a little easier - it really does take a long time and its something you can't hurry either.

      My doctor suggested I took my meds in the morning as it can interfere with sleep, though taking it different times during the day is different for all. The meds hang onto your Serotonin and this neurotransmitter affects sleep, but it will improve once the levels have settled.

      Changing your evening dose to the morning might help, and maybe take it in the afternoon for a few days, then midday, then mid morning and finally the desired time.

      K x

      Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up