Feeling like Citalopram might be "overkill".

Posted , 6 users are following.

(If you are in a rush, skip to the end for my question!)

Hi all, I've spent most of the morning reading your posts on this topic. I've gleaned that everyone should expect side effects while getting used to the drug, but that is actually not my concern in this case.

I'm a 41 year old male and I smoke and drink, both within moderation (though I aim to quit smoking this year). I eat pretty healthily and my BMI is ideal. I'm not very active, but doing physical activities is something I generally tolerate very well.

I've been coping with very on/off mild to moderate to severe anxiety for about 10 years. Before realizing what I had was anxiety, it was much worse. At one point I could barely go outdoors, and though I was terrified of hospitals (I think I have a PTSD-type condition after a pericarditis situation trauma, where I was along and sure I was dying of a heart attack in the ER) I was also terrified to be more than a 5 minute drive from one.

Eventually I got over my panic attacks for the most part - the key for me is actually a little morbid but I'll share anyway. Short of actually being suicidal, I did "give up" fighting the imaginary battle against impending death. That is to say, my reaction to panic (in my case a feeling that I'd 100% definitely die of a heart failure at any moment) eventually became one of "well fine, if I'm gonna die, then just get it over with already". It also sort of led to anger and taunting of a supreme being I actually don't believe in. "You want me (god)? Come and take me, then!" Anyway, I digress.

After several weeks and possibly months of this new laisser faire attitude toward my own survival, I noticed RAPID diminishing of my panic attacks and anxious feelings in general. This lasted about a year or so, with virtually no anxiety. Then I moved.

I had a lot of stress with the move; new job situation, money stresses, extreme loneliness and other issues. My anxiety came back with a vengeance and my old tricks weren't working.

For a year or so the anxiety came and went, I continued to use alcohol as self-medicating which actually worked pretty well (never drinking to get drunk, just a couple/few drinks a night to take the edge off).

Fast forward to a few months ago, and I started getting a lot of chest pain. It seemed to go away with burping most of the time, but old habits die hard and every sensation, tingle, stab or uneasiness sent me into panic mode.

My ears got hot, my pulse raced, I felt I couldn't breathe and got very lightheaded - I wanted to teleport home from wherever I was, and if I was driving at the time you could amplify those symptoms by a factor of 20. The underlying fear was STILL that I'd have a cardiac/pulmonary problem and not be able to get help, and would die. Traffic was rough. I'd be looking for ambulances stuck in traffic with me so that I could keep pace with them in case I had a problem. Absolutely ridiculous.

I finally got a family doctor, an advantage I'd not had since I was living back home with my parents 23 years ago. We did blood work, but it was a month of waiting as no one seemed able to find my results. My blood pressure was EXCELLENT and nothing indicated that I had any heart related problems.

Last night I finally got the results from my bloodwork. Even my liver and kidney function was now ideal, despite the drinking (my previous bloodwork a couple years ago showed very fatty liver). I was over the moon. My doctor said my health is actually exceptional. I was in "significantly better health than most people" he said. I feel like I can do anything now.

Here comes the dilemma. He prescribed me 5mg of Citalopram last night to even me out. I hesitate to take it, as I feel like my newfound confidence and excitement about life might be enough in and of itself. I feel like I can beat anxiety on my own, which is not to shame those who cannot. By all accounts, I should have probably been on SSRIs since 5 years ago and my life probably would have been a LOT better for it.

What do you guys/gals think? Should I wait it out or "just take the meds anyway"?

Great forum you have here, I will try to contribute as much as I can!


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  • Posted

    Knowing what I know now after taking SSRI's for 25 year's and currently tapering off at 3-5% every 2-4+ week's, I would have NEVER taken. Alot of alternatives if you do your homework. SSRI's numb your brain and are like an umbrella in a controlled rain. You need to find the switch for it. Very difficult to get off and it does major changes to the brain.

    Study up on Ann Blayk-Tracy and drug awareness on the truth about all SSRI's. Seek alternatives for your anxiety issues first on what you can do and you will thank yourself not poisoning your brain with these psych meds. All the doctors know to do is give a pill for your condition which is wrong.

    Take care of yourself and good to hear your tests showed good.

    Happy to hear your being proactive before trusting your doctor taking SSRI'S.

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  • Posted

    I would suggest you try other methods and only take the SSRI as a last resort.  Supplements [Magnesium/Calcium], Rescue Remedy, better diet/exercise, mindfulness, "Dare Response" method, etc.

    When I went to the GP a few months - he prescribed me 10mg Citalopram which worked great to snuff out recent anxiety [auto accident/work related stress] within a few weeks but amplified my health related anxiety due to the drug's side effects / normal body quirks.   I soon learned out to reduce the anxiety by using Dare Response [similar to what you did with your panic attacks] and it's worked to help snuff out anxiety before it starts to build.

    I'm currently weening off [~2.5mg a week] as I'm not depressed [the drug did cause a few depressive blips] and have tools/knowledge to control anxiety whenever it tries to show it's ugly face again. 

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  • Posted

    Hi Jeff.  Wow what a journey. I had a very close friend who suffered from anxiety after being made redundant and his beigest fear became having a heart attack despite a clean bill of health. I too self medicated with alcohol and cigarettes which short term helped but I always suffered later in the day.  I cant speak highly enough of this medication other then the initial side effects. It has changed my life for the better despite having to back on it 7 times over the last 20 years.  SO your thoughts seem to have a common thread amongst many sufferers of anxiety. My advice? Try them. Get through the initial few weeks of increased anxiety (Although you may not have this side effect) and see if it improves.  In this modern world of medication there is no need to suffer. Good luck and I hope it all works out for the best. Mark  
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  • Posted


    I have suffered from anxiety for 10 years (im only 29). At times I have been able to deal with it really well. At other times I was a shell of the person I am today. I saw medication as a sign I had given up (I still struggle with it) but after a year in therapy I decided, with long consultation with my doctor/therapist, that it would be the right decision. My relationship was on its last legs, I was taking an excessive amount of time off work, despite how I felt inside about my resilience and ability to bounce back, what I was risking was too great. I have been on medication for 8 months and it has been the hardest 8 months of my life. I have been sick, depressed, taken to the depths of my darkest feelings, faced criticism from others and myself, still struggled with work and still almost lost my relationship. From that I can say that I am myself again. Not myself in a 'good period' but myself I had forgotten even existed. It feels great. Its still hard every day, I struggle with the side effects of medication (drowsiness, fuzzy memory, decreased sex drive) but I make the choice each day to stick with it. I also spend a lot of time working towards getting better - eating well, exercising, avoiding alcohol and drugs, meditating, doing other mindfulness exercises. My doctor says I will probably never get off my medication and I have had to come to terms with that fact - as well as not giving up hope that I will. But as she says, if you had diabetes - would you not treat it?

    This is not an endorsement that you should try medication. I tell everyone (and so should every doctor) that you should exhaust every possible option to deal with anxiety before resorting to medication. There has been a great deal of research that suggests medication for mild anxiety is not better than meditation and mindfulness therapy. And even more research which says medication alone cannot cure or effectively treat anxiety - you must engage with therapy resources and meditation etc. This is a heavily researched subject so look into it. Read up about what it does to your brain and your body.

    For a reference - I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder, OCD and depressive episodes. I take 30mg of citalopram daily.  You would not know it if you saw me. I have a highly qualified job, I have a loving relationship, I am fit and healthy and the vast majority of people in my life would not know I have or have ever suffered from anxiety. Its up to you to decide these things - and I certainly would never make such a big decision without consultation from my support group (family, partner, friends), medical professionals (therapists and doctors), and a bit of soul searching. You dont want to undertake this journey alone - whichever path you choose.

    Best of luck Jeff!

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  • Posted

    What I've learned the hard way.

    They do not work but only anesthesize the frontal cortex of the brain and blunt ALL emotions. They have hundreds of adverse effects and the longer that a person is taking antidepressants the more adverse effects can happen. There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some people have issues with metabolizing serotonin and it floods the brain. Taking antidepressants only makes it worse for them. Antidepressants interfere with the metabolism of serotonin and can cause damage to any and every part of the brain and body. If you decide to get off of SSRI's, then it has to be done very slowly. Most doctors are uninformed about these drugs especially safe tapering. They take their patients off too quickly and they can end up with severe and protracted withdrawals. Recommend a taper of no more than a 5% decrease every two to four weeks. It is important to give the brain and body time to adjust to the chemical changes taking place. If depression and anxiety are not caused by trauma then it is believed that they are symptoms of something physically going in the body. It could be nutritional deficiencies or allergies, hormonal imbalances such as Thyroid disease or vitamin D deficiency, heavy metal toxins or chemicals, genetic defects such as the MTHFR gene defects and bad gut health. Antidepressants cause bad gut health because over 90% of all serotonin lies in the digestive tract. If you can find a good functional doctor that do the testing to find the root cause of your anxiety then you may be able to be helped better. Antidepressants only mask anxiety and depression and, in the end, cause anxiety and depression!

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    • Posted

      wow - very informative post and information that's tough to find unless you really search for it.  When I googled/youtubed Citalopram - it was mainly horror stories, side effects and "experts aren't really sure what it does" [how freaking scary is that?]

      Interesting about the gut/ssri - I probably should add a Probiotic to my diet as my guts gurgle quite a lot [and sometimes loud] about 30 minutes after eating. smile

      My anxiety [which I had under control] was caused by trauma - an auto accident [which caused my anxiety to exceed the level that my brain could handle] followed by dizzy spells [which were from anxiety] and stress at work.  When I went to see a GP, he instantly prescribed me with Citalopram and only said "if you feel sick that means it's working and then sent me on my way sad    Within a few weeks after taking the drug, I was able to overcome the anxieties I had.  And honestly, the only "deadened" emotion I have related to the drug is I don't get angry/upset anymore.

      I agree testing [genetic tests, your diet, and blood work] should be done prior to a doctor being able to prescribe an SSRI.  But that would take time and sometimes people just can't wait weeks for results.   So I think docs prescribe an SSRI because it is "safe" has a high chance of reducing anxiety/depression symptoms and is cost effective for the patient.


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    • Posted

      There are two serotonins in the body phirepheral serotonin in the gut..and just serotonin in the brain..it's not rocket science..take care..two different serotonins...

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    • Posted

      Now [2 months on 10mg - my body can't tolerate a higher dose] - note that I'm taking this for anxiety and not depression.

       - My mood is neutral/positive and I don't get angry/upset anymore [since week 2 of taking the drug].  This could be a result of the drug or that I've changed my mindful thinking to the point that I don't let things get me angry/upset anymore. 

      - I don't have headaches anymore - this could be a result of getting/wearing prescription computer glasses and cutting out caffeine intake [I use to drink Thai Ice Tea every day].

      - I get excited when it's applicable, I laugh when something is funny, I cry when something is sad, and my libido is operational to the point of how things were prior to taking the drug.

      - Anxiety is still present but mainly limited to legitimate health related issues which is normal for me.  However the intensity of the anxiety is more elevated than before I started taking the med.

      - Non health related anxiety is an oddity - today while watching a movie in the theater, anxiety started to become elevated for no reason at all - which in turn made me light headed/more anxious that lasted during the entire movie.  About 5 minutes after I left the theater - everything was OK. 

      I think at this point I feel I am ready to start weaning myself off the drug very slowly to see if anything changes [I do wonder at what dose the drug has a negligible effect].

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    • Posted

      Only two months on ten.?..it took me 8months to feel normal..been on them 15months..two months is not long enough to feel the benefits..I take mine for anxiety...I don't have depression...

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    • Posted

      I've never been on an SSRI so how would I know what is considered normal?  With the few odd/random anxiety that may happen once a week, I honestly feel about the same as I did prior to when my uncontrolled anxiety appeared 3 months ago [a month prior to starting on the med]. 

      How did you know/feel at the 8 month mark?

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    • Posted

      I've only been on Citalopram for 2 months at 10mg.  At the beginning I tried 20mg but it caused tightness in my chest and made it difficult to breath so I dropped back down to 10mg and stayed there.

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