Coming off SSRI's (Cipralex in my case)

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I've been on SSRIs for about 15 years, first Prozac, then Seroxat and now Cipralex 5mg. While they helped my depression and I felt quite well and functioning on them, after about 10 years I wanted to stop them. Easier said than done. I am shocked at the number of people on this discussion site that have had trouble coming off them as I have done, especially as the doctors keep telling me they are not addictive. Psychologists also say the beneficial effects are all placebo anyway which I also don't believe. They make you feel good but they are almost impossible to come off.

Also from reading the various posts I can identify with the side effects (which I did not realise were side effects) such as weight gain and loss of libido, and even deadening of the genital area. I also eventually found the feeling of being a bit 'dead' and unreactive too disconcerting, ie not reacting to things like weepy films and News stories. Previously I would have a little cry.

Even a small reduction causes the brain zaps, a feeling of hopelessness and anxiety to the point where I went running back to the usual dose. I would love to being able to stop taking them and feel like a normal human being again without feeling total hopeless and crushed by life's adversities and the sadness all around.

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  • Posted

    I keep saying this and over and over to people, and I don't think Dr's understand it either..

    You can't just stop a drug like an SSRI (or any drug for that matter which is psychoactive/affects brain chemistry) which you have been taking for a long period of time... even months.. it has to be done slowly, carefully and managed with a taper down regime...

    Some Dr's seem to think because a patient feels fine and has no depression/anxiety after x months/years, and some of their patients may have withdrawn/stopped suddenly without any problems, that all patients can. It's not so. As you said, some people go through sheer hell with the side effects of quitting, and realise their brains have become dependent on the SSRI to moderate serotonin levels.

    The only logical way to withdraw or stop is to do it very slowly and gradually to allow the brain time to adjust over a sensible time period.. that could realistically mean months. And using 2.5mg doses decreases every x weeks. You should do it by trial and error I think as everyone is different.

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  • Posted

    You can try quitting by halving the dose perhaps, if that proves too much, move to 2.5mg dose decreases daily or every x days... if that proves too much, move to 2.5mg decreases every x weeks.. etc.. find out a gentle way for you that doesn't give you brain zaps or the unpleasant side effects.

    If you experience sudden or rapid return of symptoms (re-bound depression or anxiety) it's probably too early to come off the med, or you may need to discuss switching meds to one which is easier to taper off from.

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  • Posted

    I too have been on SSRIs for a long time, about 12 years. Of the three I have used Citalopram has been the most helpful and least unpleasant. I have tried coming off Citalopram on a few occasions now with varying degrees of success. Recently I have reduced from 40 mg and am currently taking 10 mg. (I have previously been on the highest dose of 60 mg in the past)

    I have found the following website really helpful in planning how to reduce: http://comingoff.com. It explains about the 'half-life' of medications and how you can use this to reduce very, very slowly. It takes months to do it successfully.

    The doses available for Citalopram are 10, 20 and 40 mg tablets. So to reduce from 40 I took 40 one day and 20&10 the following day. The next day I went back to 40. So on alternate days I took 40 and the next day 30. Because of the half-life of the drug this levelled out to 35 mg per day. I stayed with this dose for one month. The first two weeks I had manageable withdrawal symptoms. I would then have a fortnight feeling pretty stable again. So it seemed to take a couple of weeks for my body to recognise the lower level of serotonin and for my body to produce its own increase in response to the drop. Once I had been stable for a couple of weeks I tried another drop and took the equivalent of 30 (ie a 20 & 10) everyday. After a month or so I dropped by taking 20&10 alternating with just the 20, therefore levelling to the equivalent of 25mg. Sometimes I felt it took longer to stabilise so I would then delay the next reduction.

    Having continued at this rate of reduction I finally dropped to 5mg but had increased anxiety which never settled and was quite unmanageable. I stayed at this dose for a couple of months but finally decided to increase again to 10mg and I feel fine again. Who knows if I will ever be able to drop the last notch but at least I am way down from where I was. It took patience and perseverance but I got there without too much disturbance.

    Good luck and I hope that helps.

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  • Posted

    I have used Citalopram for the past seven years. I am on 10mg dose to treat anxiety problems. I tried to come off it twice. First time I was unsuccessful. Then I was on HRT, which was great and I could start coming of it again. HRT improves your production of serotonin so everything was good. Once I stopped HRT, things became not so good. Once, chemist told me to come off Citalopram very slowly, preferably over a period of one and a half year. The longer you are on C, the longer it takes to wean yourself off it, if ever. I started from a half of a tablet less in the first month, then two, then three halves less per month and so on. I got to the stage when I was taking a half tablet each day and it took me a whole year. I would have continued, but at that time I came of HRT and my anxiety became worse. I am now under the impression that I will never give up the C, I must be that sensitive person and the C takes the edge of my deep feelings. All similar medicines are numbing our minds, but it is good for me. Otherwise I would be too emotionally involved. I am not going to increase the dose and if I can, I will try to come of it again in the future. At this moment I take 0.75 of the tablet on Mon, Wed and Fri, other days: half.

    So, good luck to anyone who is trying!

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  • Posted

    Hi Maryh103

    Unfortunately any drug is addictive and dont let Anyone tell you any different.  I have been on antidepressants (all sorts) over a 24 year span.  The coming off is horrendous and several times I have had to stop relatively abruptly to restart another.  I am on my second day of no Cipralex and I can tell you it is not pleasant.  Brain zapping is continuous and my mood is immensely irritable.  Tomorrow I start Cymbalta again! It has been decided that this may be the better option for me as it is also beneficial with fibromyalgia which is currently problematic.  I suggest a controlled withdrawal and wish you luck as you will, Im sure, appreciate a life without drugs is an altogether better option.

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    • Posted

      Hi Tanzi,

      On the brain zap, good news - bad news.  The brain zip have stoped, seemingly no leftover effect, but it took more than 6 month. sad

      Still much better than what Citalopham did to my stomach 9 months ago and no solition is site. Maybe permenant?!

      good luck

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  • Posted

    I am just coming off of cypralex. Was on it for about 5-6 years. I was taking 10mg as well as abilify 2mg. Things just weren't well with me lately so my doctor increased my dose from 10mg to 20mg as well as my abilify to 4mg. Out of no where.. he decided to drop the cypralex!!! I've been an absolute mess!! From brain zaps dizzy spells higher anxiety heart palpitations and crazy shock waves through my body with 3-5 second black put spells where I could feel my heart beat 1-2 beats hard. I have slipped into a severe depression. I'm angry with my doctor for telling me they're non addictive! If they're non addictive then why are the withdrawals so awful!!

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