Impossible to Stop taking Citalopram?

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Hello,

I have been taking Citalopram for approximately 9 years. I was initially prescribed the 20mg dose which was increased to 30mg around 4 years ago and then, once again, increased to 40mg 2 years ago.

I have tried several times to cease taking this drug in a variety of ways and have suffered debilitating symptoms each time, whether I have abruptly stopped or took up a steady and gradual decrease over a lengthy period.

To be more precise, in the past I've decreased to 30mg per day for approximately 1 month and found that I develop a lack of patience, a headache, achy/tired eyes in addition to dizziness and bouts of extreme fatigue and tiredness that literally switch off and on. I've had to treat this by reverting back to the 40mg dose as I feel tranquilized. 

I've spoke to my GP several times to discuss lowering the dose. To my surprise, my GP does not seem to be aware of the withdrawal symptoms and has never discussed a withdrawal plan.

I do feel completely out of my depth here. Could it be that I will be stuck taking this drug for the rest of my life or is there a proven and practised way of stopping this drug?

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  • Posted

    I stopped Citalopram 20mg...cold turkey after 15 years.

    For 2 weeks...I had discontinuing symptoms...that were mainly agitation....problems sleeping.

    That's it...it can be done...you just have to put up with being a little uncomfortable.

    I switched to a non-SSRI...because some other of my medications affect that induce seratonin and there was a drug interaction...I'm now on Wellbutrin.

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  • Posted

    I take my last pill tomorrow after 2 years.. It worked.. Whether you can get off depends on what kind of depression that you have.. If it's situatioinal, then you can get off.. If it's a chemical imbalance then perhaps never.. I started at 20 and went to 10 for two weeks and then five for two weeks.. I feel okay so far... good luck

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    • Posted

      Hi i came off this drug about 6 weeks ago. Was on 40mg and came down 10mg per week and after 10mg nothing. Felt fine then 2weeks later i started with the withdrawal symptoms and omg it was awful. I do still have some but like you i was on for a number of years. It was so bad i suggested to GP to let me go back on but they said no as i would have to go through it again. The only thing i can advise is that if you really want off this drug and have suffered from withdrawal symptons each time then the only way is to fight these symptoms. They are awful and take time and taking anti nausea drugs and diazepam can help ease symptoms but the body is adjusting to not having this chemical in its system. Its not easy and you are going to have to be strongminded that you can do it and keep going as you will feel like before that symptoms are so bad its easier to go back on. Try to resist and tell yourself its just a phase and it will pass which it will but like you know it is at times insufferable. Only you know if you are strong enough to do this. I do find it incredible though that your doc knew nothing about withdrawal. Mine knew just didnt forewarn me and took me off too quick. You can also find strength on here talking to others when things get bad and it helped me get through it knowing i wasnt alone. Like i said ive still some symptoms but some info ive read states you need to give yourself as long as it takes and can be few months before start to feel normal again. Im just taking a day at a time and each week is another step closer to that goal of few months. Be kind to yourself as its a rough process. Good luck
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    • Posted

      I stopped citralopram completely on June 19 and now in the last two weeks I started having withdrawal symptoms. Is this normal to get them now. They started slowly and the symptoms are like I had when I started them. I'm having trouble sleeping and the anxiety like feeling in my stomach again. How long do they normally last? Plus I don't eat much. I don't think I would have withdrawn from them if I knew I was gonna go through feelings like this. I hope I can get over this soon. Its as hard to get off them as it was to start them. Thank you for any encouragement you can give me.

      Thank you,

      Sue

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  • Posted

    I've just about stopped Citalopram ...... and had no withdrawl symptoms at all (unlike the first time I did it).

    This time I reduced my meds by 5mg at a time, going from 20 / 15 / 10 / 5 / 2.5 and then I started doing every other day with the last 2.5mg and I hardly take it now.

    First I bought a pill cutter and cut my 20mg's into 1/4's making each bit 5mg and started by taking 5mg less.  Each dose I took I stayed on it for around 1-2 months and I've taken this last year withdrawing.  If I got to a dose and I felt unsure, I knew I could just stay there or go back up 5mg ..... but I've been ok and had no symptoms.

    First time I withdrew I had nausea, crying, brain zaps and I forget what else.  It wasn't horrendous, but not nice.  First time I did 20 / 10 / 5 / 0 over about 6 months?  This time around - nothing.

    No, you're not stuck on the drug.  Your body needs to come off real slow.  The slower and longer you withdraw, the better.

    Try doing it by 5mg.  Its a tiny amount and your body may not notice the decrease each time.

     

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    • Posted

      Hi Kate, thank you that is reassuring advice, I came off them the start of last year (what I thought was slow) after about 10 years on them, I went through a horrendous time, my anxiety was off the scale, I gave up after about 8 months and went back on them, but it is nice to know when I feel ready I can give it another try x
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    • Posted

      My first time coming off them I also thought was slow - 5-6 months, but that still wasn't slow enough ;-)  I'd been on them for 16 years, and did manage to come off them during those months, but I did suffer.  I stayed off a year, and due to family illness 2 years felt the need to restart as it began to affect me.  

      Of course you can stay on meds for life if you need to.  They're no different to people having to take epilipesy meds, diabetes etc ..... so why should this illness be any different.

      But yes, if you do decide to come off them, do try doing it by 5mg a time.  It's been a completely different experience for me this time.

      K xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Katecogs I completely agree with your advice and am doing very similar. I also use a pill cutter and find after each taper you have to be patient and give your brain and nervous system a chance to settle. And it does settle and takes me a few months.

      Unfortunately., because I was doing so well after six months i tapered too quickly as underestimated these and am paying the price but will stick with it.

      Slow tapers and alot of patience and we can get off these imho.

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    • Posted

      Yes you do have to be patient after each taper ......... and you do find tapering too quick catches up with you as you found.  I did the same the first time I did this and had symptoms for months.

      Its hard being patient when starting these meds and hard being patient coming off them too.  Something we have little of when we have anxiety sad

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    • Posted

      Yes. Kate cogs is so right

      I can’t reinforce slowness enough 

      I took a year tapering off 20 mg

      Ending on 1.25 mg alt days 

      Still had a few blips along the way then went back to last dose for two weeks

      But I was good on that really

      But am on it again! As I realised my body brain needs that seratonin link 

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    • Posted

      I have gotten off the citralopram.

      Finished them on June 19 and thought I was doing good with no withdrawal symptons, but started having issues in the past 2=3 weeks. I'm having trouble sleeping, waking up after a couple of hours and having to take something over the counter to get some more sleep, not eating much and have the anxiety feelings in my stomach. I wanted to know how long you had the withdrawal symptoms to last. I would almost get back on them, but figured the side effects would start all over again.

      Any help or advice would be appreciated. I got some 5 HTP at the vitamin shop because I read that it helped boost seratonin levels and would help.

      Thank you,

      Sue

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    • Posted

      That happened to me

      6 weeks after stopping them in 2014

      I Wasted several years on 5 htp st jons wort etc after

      Went really down

      went back on them two years ago

      MUCH better

      i am great because I am on them and realise that

      its like needing insulin for a diabetic

      i shall stay on them

      you may find it gets easier

      i didnt am afraid

      good luck

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  • Posted

    Hi mark61320...I hope you are feeling well today flower. Can I ask if there is a reason you feel the need to come off the citalopram? To be totally honest...I am very new to all this and I've only taken it for 13 days! The way I feel right now..is..I wouldn't care if I was on it for life..as the way I've felt for months without it I would never want to go back there! The shocking headache..the fatigue and not feeling rested even after 12 hours sleep..the awful agitated feeling I'd felt for weeks..the confused mind!! The nightmares!! This was how I felt before I was given the citalopram!! They say it is very safe to stay on it..and I'm no doctor! But for the sake of taking a tablet a day..id never want to go back to that place!! That's my personal opinion right now..but like I've said...I'm very new to this!! If you feel better on it...id stay with it!! Or...I've heard people say cut a tablet in half...and ween yourself very very slowly!! Like if you are on 40mg..tell your gp to prescribe you 30 and 10's...cut the 10 in half and take it with the 30! X

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    • Posted

      I am wishing to discontinue as I was initially prescribed a low dose of Citalopram to help reduce anxiety associated with having a social phobia. I do still experience a small amount of anxiety in public but it is not at a such a level that I think would be appropriate for an SSRI to be continually taken.

      I'd like to be Citalopram-free so that I am in a position to experience a natural, rather than a drug-mediated, level of anxiety and resolve it through my own efforts. I also don't have a fond view of the Pharmaceutical companies who get people hooked onto these drugs. They must know that they are addictive to stop taking and I feel betrayed and flabagasted that Doctor's prescribe this dangerous drug to solve issues, such as anxiety or depression, which I believe a person should be able conquer through their own efforts.

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    • Posted

      These meds are not addictive.  Addictive means you'd need more and more for them to work ..... this isn't how they work.  You do not need to take a bigger dose, then a bigger dose and more etc.  You don't get hooked on them.  Any medication that works on the brain is going to be tough.  Sadly its true though that doctors underestimate the power of these.

      Yes they can be tough to come off, but withdrawing from them has to be done with a small a dose as possible and for as long as possible.  If you suddenly stop taking them then it stands to reason your brain is going to going to go crazy.

      If taken and withdrawn correctly these meds do absolute wonders for many people.  But they don't suit everyone.  For many people they are their saviour ..... as they were for me too, ending 16 long years of torturous depression and anxiety even though I'd tried all that time to conquer it with my own efforts.  Within 6 months on these meds I'd recovered.

      Everyone is different and our bodies react differently.  

      I'd suggest you withdraw by 5mg at a time taking at least months on each lowered dose.  When you get down to the last 5mg, then crush it up and take half again for another 2 months, and then taken even less after that by just dipping your finger in the powder and taking a teensy amount.  Finally stop.  This is how I did it.  No withdrawl symptoms at all this time around (unlike before when I'd tried to do it).

      K xxx

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    • Posted

      By addiction I am referring to dependency. Yes, people who are addicted to something usually do take more of that substance but not always.

      Citalopram isn't like sugar; Citalopram can take 3-4 weeks to work. It therefore would not be in a person's interest to take more of it since the effect of an increased dose would not be realized until many weeks into the future.

      I do think, however, that Citalopram causes habitual addiction or dependence, which in the long run makes the Pharmaceutical companies rich and leaves the person who was given the drug unable to deal with their emotions properly since they are masked by the drug.

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    • Posted

      Often people are low in serotonin, and these meds help to hang onto it before its reaborbed into the brain, making you feel calmer, happier with general well being improving overall.  Once coming off the meds you can find your serotonin going back to what it was again, making you feel low.  The most natural thing is to boost your serotonin with other remedies, but that's often easier said than done for a lot of people who've simply lost the will.

      There was a good programme of TV last week about the Wilderness Programme, getting young adults out into the wilds, camping, team building, being at one with nature ....... did many of them so good.

      I think being at one with the outdoors is such a good healer.  Music too ..... learn to play an instrument (my son did when he was ill and he's still playing 2 years later) cheesygrin

      Some people have diabetes and need insulin to regulate it ...... I don't see any difference with depression / serotonin really.  Depression / anxiety is an illness the same as any other that needs meds, though obviously we can live without them, but often not very happily.

      What dose are you on now?  Have you started reducing yet?  Do it slow ..... there's no need to hurry it wink

      K xx

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    • Posted

      I do often go cycling and long walks which is a positive experience for me. However, for me, Citalopram was prescribed for anxiety. In my view, I've never had Major Depressive Disorder and I've certainly not heard my GP prescribe or change my Citalopram dose for reasons of Depression.

      To cut a long story short, in 2004 (age 14), I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes and the high blood sugar, in the view of my GP, caused Schizoaffective disorder (this is Paranoid Schizophrenia that occurs ONLY when made to feel stressed). I was therefore given Fluoxetine which caused disturbing symptoms and so they switched me to Citalopram. So they treated my anxiety but didn't treat the Schizoaffective disorder as it was believed this would resolve itself once my blood sugar returned to normal.

      I feel that Citalopram is very good at reducing anxiety symptoms but, unlike the insulin I take which keeps me alive, my view is that I should not have been given any drugs because the side-effects outweigh the benefits and for somebody does not have Major Depressive Disorder, I feel that if I had not taken the Citalopram I would not have been at risk of a life-threatening symptom (i.e. suicidal) and could have used more natural ways of working at reducing the anxiety.

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    • Posted

      My son was prescribed Fluoxetine too 2 years ago after a major meltdown - he also got very disturbing symptoms too including suicidal tendencies - couldn't work for 4 months.  Very difficult time for all the family and especially him.  Took him 9 months of hell to finally recover.

      I hope your journey off the meds is a smooth one and you find a natural way that works for you.

      K x

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