Long term Citalopram usage: Tapering off slowly but getting withdrawal effects

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Many years ago (over 10 at least) I was prescribed Citalopram for anxiety and panic attacks. Initially, I believe it was a 10mg dose, then upped to 20mg and possibly reduced to 10mg at some point. I've never been on a dose higher than 20mg.

I have tried unsuccessfully over the years to come off the drug, by slowly reducing the dosage/frequency of taking, but each time the side effects have made me give up and go back on to the full regular dose. Headaches, head filled with cotton wool, spaced out, not with it, distant, tired, extremely irritable, mood swings, memory issues, lack of focus and concentration, did I mention extremely irritable?!

My doctor and I discussed a better plan for slowly tapering off the drug and I'd not heard of this one before and it seems neither had the chemist as they never have more than one in stock at a time - but essentially the idea is to use Citalopram drops instead of tablets to have a finer control over the reduction. As the doctor described it and I understood it: "by alternating tablets of different strengths, the amount of chemical in your body is not constant or regular, it's up and down if you do that, like your side effects and mood".

So I started with 6 drops daily with no rush to reduce it further. Many, many months later I'm down to 4 drops daily, which I think is the equivalent to a 10mg tablet.

The problem is I'm now getting the symptoms described above on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they feel debilitating. I'm off work today for example with a thumping headache which I've had for 3 days. I feel not with it, foggy, drowsy.

I have had many blood tests recently to screen for any deficiencies and also for stomach related issues, but all have (and always have) come back clear apart from a slightly raised liver function (which is always slightly raised; I don't regularly drink either).

I'm waiting to see the doctor I discussed the withdrawal plan with about this, but ironically he has been signed off sick for weeks.

Just wondering if there were any others out there suffering in the same way with the same circumstances.


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  • Posted

    I came off Citalopram after 16 years and spent a year withdrawing by 5mg reductions and waiting on each one about 1-2 months or until I felt ready to continue. Doing it that slow I didn't have any withdrawal at all - nothing - unlike a previous time when I'd done it quicker and dropped too big a dose.

    I bought a pill cutter / crusher and chopped my tablets up and the last 5mg I gad to crush. My doses were 20 - 15 - 10 - 5 - 2.5 - 1.25 - 0.

    You can even reduce by 2.5mg. Your body doesn't miss small reductions. You also need to give each reduction lots of time so your body adjusts gently.

    If you get withdrawal its because you're doing it too quick or by too big a dose.

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  • Posted

    Hi there Jamie,

    Some sites, such as Mind and Surviving Antidepressants and the Icarus Project, suggest only tapering by 10 per cent of your current dosage.

    I don't know what mg the the equivalence in drops is....how many mg is one drop?

    So for example, if you are on 10mg, then ten per cent is 1mg, so you'd drop from 10mg to 9mg.

    Then you hold at that dose for 4 to 6 weeks, to see if there's any reaction and to let your system stabilise.

    Then you drop by ten per cent of 9mg and hold for 4 to 6 weeks.


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  • Posted

    Hello! im not on celexa now after getting off of it.

    Im feeling it bad withdrawal.

    Any suggestions?

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