Third week off of Celexa (originally 20MG): Withdrawal symptoms

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Hi all,

I am in the U.S., but came across this site while researching withdraw symptoms.

I began taking them to help with bad anxiety that was happening right before I planned on moving out of my parent's house and off to a university and a new apartment. I would be in a new city, my own apartment, a new job and a new university (I was a transfer student). My counselor practiced breathing exercises with me and other remedies, but Celexa was the only thing that ultimately stopped the panic attacks. So in Summer of 2013, I began taking Celexa 20mg. It worked great - I had no complaints until I started noticing the weight gain and sexual dysfunction.

Just short of two years later, I feel like I know my new city, university and am very comfortable with my

job. Along with the 40lb weight gain, I knew it was time to get off.

What I did was switch from my 20MG to 10MG (cutting pills in half) for about 4 days and then I forgot to take it the next day and decided, well hey, let's just kick it for good. Well, here I am, three weeks later. The first week had little to none symptoms--I imagine this was because the drug was still in my system. The second week was hard with headaches a little bit of dizziness, and brain zaps, but that has mostly worn off. I'll get a little headache here and there but they weren't as bad the second week.

My problem now (in my third week) is that my mood swings, short temper, easily irritability and crying spells are identical to most users experiencing withdrawal symptoms. As a 21 year old male, I've never really experienced such drastic mood swings. It's definitely strange for me.

My question for you and for others is how much longer does this last? I only took Celexa 20 MG for a little under 2 years. I'm ready to feel "normal" again.

Another question I wanted to bring up was in regards to the weight gain and sexual dysfunction. I gained 40 lbs while on Celexa and experienced the sexual dysfunction side effect as well. What can I do to start losing those pounds? Do they come off naturally or do I have to work out and do some cardio?

Thank you all for your help.

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  • Posted

    Hi,

    As you were on Celexa for 2 years, coming off cold turkey is not advisable at all. I did this only 4 months into my first dosage and I encountered 3 weeks of hell - insomnia, extreme irritability, intense facial zaps - before my psychiatrist advised I restart Citalopram.

    I am now off Citalopram for nearly 3 weeks, but I tapered very gradually over the past 4 months, going from 30-20-15-10 to 5, and then finally to 2.5 mg for about 10 days so my body could get accustomed to lowering doses. I feel much better tapering slowly, although I still have some side effects. I have been keeping a diary of my withdrawal symptoms, and while the facial zaps have reduced greatly, I am still prone to intense irritability and a quick temper.

    I'm not a psychiatrist but if you don't want to go down a road of sickness, I suggest you restart your Cit dose just to feel normal again, and then set yourself a measured plan for tapering (perhaps lowering your doses over 4-6 months, even 8). This will make the next time you come off Citalopram potentially much easier to handle.

    In regards to weight loss, I really started noticing the spare tyre during my highest dosage of 30 mg, this despite going to the gym nearly 4 times a week. Not much you can do there. Even after stopping, I still feel the additional weight hanging around.

    Lastly, in terms of sexual dysfunction (the main reason I decide to come off Cit/Celexa), this also may take some time to return. SSRI's are notorious for affecting sex drive even after withdrawal, so I would just try to remain patient and find something else to keep your mind occupied; however, from one guy to another I know how important libido is to our sexuality! As you are 21, I am sure it should take no time to return at all!

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  • Posted

    Sorry to hear about your withdrawal difficulties.

    i have been on 40mg of Celexa for quite a few years.  About 3 years ago, I attempted to stop taking it just to see if I could cope on my own.

    same as you....first week wasn't too bad......then I started to get the zaps, irritability, and foggy brain.

    After 3 weeks, the crying started. Non-stop....all day long......severe melancholy.....deep sadness came over me.  Cried myself to sleep every night.  I was technically not depressed....but my body chemistry caused me to feel this way.

    was it just withdrawal symptoms or was I back to where I was before the Celexa.

    anyway, about 3 months into the withdrawal, I couldn't hang on...I had to go back to taking the Celexa.  I tried so hard to stick it out.  My sex drive came back during those 3 months.  But the sadness, ruminating, and irritability was too much for me to handle.  It was really, really bad.

    Now, a few years later, I started the withdrawal again........

    i am only about 2 weeks into it.

    Like you've experienced, the drug is still in my system, or my brain synapses haven't noticed it's gone yet.....so, I know the worst is yet to come.

    So, I know what you're going through.  I mean, we each started this drug for various reasons....some have panic attacks, some anxiety and sadness.  Celexa really, really helped me a lot to quiet the extreme ruminating and to help me to roll with the punches of life much more easily. Little things didn't bother me anymore.

    My emotions were certainly numbed.....but it was better then the horrific, raw depression, worry, and  super-intense ruminating.

    i know that my withdrawal is not in full swing yet because I am still having not crying yet.  Once my brain realizes the Celexa is gone...the floodgates will most likely open.....bug time!

    I don't know if I will able to plow through this time.....I sure am gonna give it a go.  I just retired, so my life is a lot less stressful.

    you sound young and still in the full swing of life.

    I really hope you do well.....many people on this forum say the best thing to do is to taper very, very slowly.  This will increase your chance of success. But, I imagine everyone is different.

    your sex drive should come back.....it may take quite a while....it may already be back.  But, just so you know, there are some people...not too many, that say it never came back for them.  That is scary as all heck!

    i have been reading lately of a small percentage of people coming off SSRI medication that they actually get what's called PGAD.  Which is Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder.  Do a search on it if you're interested in that...it is kind of the opposite of a low libido.  And not in a positive way.

    So many people on Celexa and other similar drugs do gain weight.  I am really hoping that you are able to lose what you need to.  

    Good luck to you.  I am glad you found this forum....there are tons of us that are in the same boat and really need to learn from each other.

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  • Posted

    Hi there

    I'm in the UK and have just read your post.  I've been on CItalopram for more years than I can remember along with a host of other meds for bipolar and anxiety and allergies.  I've never tried to come off it of my own volition but was once taken off it by the hospital for a while due to a hypomanic spell and the withdrawal effects were very similar to those you describe.  I too have gained a lot of weight but I prefer that to the mood swings.

    Hopefully there will be other people on this forum who can answer your questions better than I can bjut for now I wish you all the best

    Lizzie 

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  • Posted

    Sometimes a small amount of lorazepam can help with the withdrawal related anxiety.  Taken in small doses temporarily could provide relief until the citalopram is washed out of your system.  Just don't get hooked on the benzodiapenes.  Another thing you can do is find ways not to focus too much on how you feel and ruminate about the meds.  That's what I'm trying to do right now is get away from thinking a lot about my moods and anxieties and focus more on what I have to do during the day.  Ii know this period stinks but it should improve as your body gets used to not being on the meds.
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