Switching from Citalopram to Fluoxetine, 17 days in

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Where to begin.. First time poster here.  This site has gotten me through A LOT on my road to recovery and for that I thank all who contribute so much. 

I've suffered from panic attacks since I was a very young kid, and when I got a bit older and the real world hit me, so did depression.  On the surface I'm someone no one would expect to have dealt with this, and the few people I've told don't necessarily see the extent.  When it's YOU dealing with it, it's magnified ten fold obviously.  But I've suffered quietly for years.  I could always get myself out of bed and go about my day but the depression seemed to linger and always be with me, as did the panic at times (ex: far car rides). 

Fast forward to 2012, I'm on a booze fueled vacation with buddies and on the 4th day decide to take a break.  Between the dehydration/detox/underlying anxiety, I basically had a break down on the beach.  Ended up in the hospital and had to have my parents come and get me the next day to take me home.  The experience shook me to my core and made me realize just how intense it could get.  Agoraphobia followed for a bit, as did crippling depression, intrusive thoughts.  It seemed to ease a bit but would creep up in intensity.  By the summer of 2014, on beautiful days I found myself in a major slump consistently and finally decided to take medication.  Insert Citalopram. 

20 mgs seemed to do nothing.  Shortly after doc bumped to 40, and walllllllah.  No side effects to begin, and not a single side effect till it kicked in.  The stuff saved my life at the time.  I knew it couldn't have been a placebo because I pretty much go into a medication expecting it not to worth.  But surely, it was the one thing that cracked the slump in the biggest way possible.  I finally had clarity in my life and noticed that the vicious cycle of angst/depression/intrusive thoughts all seemed to fall by the way side and I could be myself again.  This continued for 6 months, until I convinced myself I was better and quit cold turkey.  Besides brain zaps, no side effects and I partied pretty hard in the week coming off them (Holiday season).  Did well for over a year without any intervention well into 2015.  2016 I felt myself starting to slip.  Wanting to intervene and nip it in the bud before it got bad again, I met with a Nurse Practitioner and asked to start Citalopram again.  It was the complete opposite as the first time around.

The first 3 days I puked, and sweat, and shot out of bed every 2 or 3 hours.  I stuck it out for over 3 months and eventually reached the dose I had previously thinking it would someone kick in again.  Night terrors, feeling like I was on some sort of designer drugs when I'd close my eyes.  It seemed to stop panic attacks but left more of an underlying sense of anxiety and agitation.  I told my doc and she stopped me immediately.  Within a couple days the night terrors were completely gone as well as some of the intense symptoms.  I weened off and started taking Fluoxetine 10mg while weening off for a week.

First couple days, no side effects.  5th day, felt like myself again.  Next couple days, a low of depression and an INTENSE migraine on day 8.  I keep getting a day or two there where I come home and it's like "Alright the stuff is finally kicking in" only to be crushed the next day.  Now on day 17 at 10mg and not really seeing many benefits.  Still anxiety, slightly agitated, the headaches have finalllllly gone away.  Jiu Jitsu was always my escape and amazing for clearing my head, but at about the two week mark I wanted to run out of the academy and have a panic attack and when I stuck it out, it was like the biggest brain fart ever and I couldn't stay focused whatsoever.  The NP said I shouldn't have too many side effects at 10mg, but I'm scared to jump to 20 if this is how I feel at this dose.

I've convinced myself I'm bi polar, but it seems like everytime I get clarification from a professional that I'm NOT crazy, my mood immedtialy lifts.  That's why I think deep down it's just my anxiety wreaking havoc.  I'm one of those people who will read something online and automatically assume it qualifies for me (ex: because the SSRI makes me feel strange, I'm bipolar.)  Also read an article about people who ended up going crazy on Prozac, and it DID not help.  It's like every anxiety attack I convince myself, "Alright this is it, I'm gonna go lose touch with reality," and it literally has never happened.  I've been scared, but never fully lost it. 

For anyone who has read the full thing, you are awesome and any feedback would be appreciated.  Should I stick it out?  Does it possibly get better?  PLEASE a little positivity, I don't need to be scared more than I already am on meds.  Just strange Cit was a wonder drug for me 2 years ago, and now I'm struggggggling to get situated on an SSRI.

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi FirstTimer,

    I'm sorry to read of all you've endured. I'm no expert, but I would advise to stick it out. Fluoxetine takes a really long time to work. I'm 5 1/2 weeks in and just barely starting to see improvements. I'm on 10 mg as well. I know that the journey is hard, but everyone on here assures me it will be worth it. Try to just take one day at a time. Keep talking on here, the people are so helpful and encouraging. Xx

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  • Posted

    you poor thing, you really have been throught the wringer...

    its not easy at all is it?

    I read somewhere that when you had been on an SSRI, your body got used to it in your sysyem and when you stop and then try the same one again, it can cause either side eggects that it didn't previously...or just not work as well. 

    I personally have never been prescribed anything but Fluoxetine, but have stuck with it since the end of July on 20 mg...and then up to 40mg from the end of Sept...and it literally has taken this long to start properly working for me and making me feel better. 

    Initially on the increse I felt a lot worse and that I was going backwards with the depression and the anxiety...but now I feel a lot calmer, more focussed, a LOT less anxious and just good because I feel more positive and get glimpses of happiness and excitement that I haven't had for a very long time.

    I remember having migraines too and feeling agitated and all of these feelings don't make you feel good at all...but if you can try your very very best to stick with it and perhaps even talk with your dr about a possible increase to maybe 20mg?...I believe it may be enough to make you feel the benefits of it.

    The thing that i'm finding with Fluoxetine is that it really does just take time and you have to be so strong to get through these first few months, but in the long run you should beging to feel a lot better if you can try your best to stay as calm as you can and do anything you can to help the meds do their work.

    Hang in there and keep coming on here and everyone will help. 

    It changed my life the day I came on here and I never needed it more.

    Take care and look after yourself.

    I'm sure things will be better for you.

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  • Posted

    Im so sorry you've been through so much anxietyou, it's a real beast. I too just switched over to Fluoxetine about 6 weeks ago. I was on sertraline for close to 14 years and then went off it because I felt I didn't need it. A year later my anxiety returned ten fold after I graduated college. I too tried to get back on the meds that helped me for so long and it was horrible. So my pdoc switched me over to fluox. I will say that it takes a lot of time for it to work. I'm just starting to feel the effects. I have/had the exact same fears of some horrible mental illness, my pdoc says it's just really bad anxiety and not to worry.

    Please give the meds some time, I have kinda off days but I've been feeling a good deal better the last week. And maybe you dosage needs to go up, 10mg is very small 20mg might be what you need but you can go all the way up to 80. I hope you start to feel better soon! This forum is a great place to get some encouragment, I know it really has helped me!

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    • Posted

      Thanks so much to all of the replies! My Pdoc told me, "about a week." It wasn't until I landed on here I realized just how common the hell of starting up can be. I have the best end goal possible in site, it's just hard to see when you're in the depths of the side effects. In ways I feel blessed for all us sufferers go through. It has given me a compassion and understanding I don't think I'd fully have had I not been through this. I will be checking in on here daily and hopefully one day can offer advice as you all are when I'm feeling it too!

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  • Posted

    FirstTimer,

    You should absolutely stick it out. I've been in your shoes, believe me. When I first started taking 20 MG a day for my OCD/health anxiety I woke up every day in panic with my heart racing. I was convinced that I was sick with any number of diseases and these thoughts dominated my day. One day, after one too many drinks at the bar the night before, I had the worst panic attack I've ever had. I blacked out, lost feeling in all of my limbs (especially my hands) and finally came back to reality sitting on some strangers stoop. THat was my all time low. Since then things have only gotten better and easier. I'm now four months in and am a new person. No panic attack in 3 months, no pervasive thoughts. Some general anxiety but that's just me.

    Stick with it we are all here for you.

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  • Posted

    Welp days 19 and 20 were good, and going into 21 I feel great for the first time in a looooong time. Not expecting too much out of it yet though. Another bad day here or there I can easily deal with, as these last almost 3 weeks were pure torture. Past two days were the first I haven't considered reaching for that Xanax bottle to get me out of a bind.

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    • Posted

      So glad you are starting to feel better! It will only get easier from here. I still have days here and there where I don't feel so solid, but for the most part once you start to feel good it can only get better. 

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  • Posted

    I'm sure this mood will ease in intensity but feeling that oh so heavy veil slowly lift is an amazing feeling.

    To anyone just starting, keep pushing.

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    • Posted

      Ehh quick question.. I'm feeling better overall for sure, but for the second time since I've started I've noticed that when I'm angry, things I used to be able to brush off tend to linger longer. I've had two periods where I was just plain old angry and ready to snap but keep it cool (.5 of Xanax completely stopped the first one) but tonight I slightly annoyed a customer at my job by accident and when he gave me a dirty look it completely switched my mood from happy to boiling inside. I try to avoid fights in general but when I get in them lets just say I can handle myself better than your average person. I almost had a panic attack thinking what would happen if I actually fought tonight because I know what I can be capable of. Does the irritability pass? Besides that I feel good. Maybe a dosage increase? Still at 10mg, or does this not sound like a good side effect. Read it can be common.

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    • Posted

      Just took another .5 Xanax and was calmed down within 10 minutes again. Weird, not sure if that was just intense angst or what.
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