coming off Citalopram

Hi i am new to the site, have just had a really bad panic attack and needed an outlet. I am 25 and have suffered from anxiety for almost 10 years now. My lowest point was 2 years ago when i seemed to slip into a very dark place, couldnt control my emotions or my thoughts which was very frightening.

My GP prescribed Citalopram (20mg) and after the initial 2 week period i felt tons better, have been on this dosage until recently and felt like my normal self.

2 months ago i started 'weaning' off the Citalopram, went down to 10mg a day and everything seemed ok, now i'm taking 10mg every other day and suddenly feel like im hitting that downward spiral again. My parents are leaving on holiday tomorrow and i suddenly got very anxious about this (being alone), which resulted in a panic attack and me in floods of tears thinking the worst.

I'm hoping someone on this site can relate and offer some reassurance. I already feel slightly better just writing my feelings down.


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20 Replies

  • Hi, wow im going through a similar now although i didnt weaned of them i just stopped citalopram in april this year then 10 weeks ago it all came back but much worse this time with awful thoughts...i first started citalopram in 2008 and like you i got tons better now im regretting ever stopping...Im thinking that maybe you should think of staying on them abit longer for you now must not be a good time if your symtoms are coming back i say stick to it some people are on citalopram for 30+ years. Kirsty x

  • You need to take the Citalopram. I take it and millions of others too. It's not a weakness...far from it. I need the ingredient in an antidepressant as my body does not make enough of it naturally. It is vital that this is replaced or you will go downhill hun. That is how it's been explained to me, Good Luck x

  • I am on 10mg escitalopram and it is working well, I have no plans to come off it. Did you have side-effects? If not, stay on them for the moment. If you are weaning yourself off it's better to cut down verrry slowly, from 20, to 15, to 10, to 5 and then 2.5, and take it every day rather than miss a day. Also it should be done under the supervision of your doctor. However, if you feel well on citalopram 10mg every day, well that's great, and what's the harm in sticking with it?

  • Hi gemnewby, welcome

    I feel very sorry for anyone with anxiety problems as I suffer too & am on Citalopram. I've been on it before this current period for around 2 years but this time I started on 10mg, Dr increased it to 20mg then 30mg, then 40mg since January. When taking 30mg I still had pins & needles every morning & a nervy feeling, that was why I was put on 40mg. Now I'm taking 30mg on Drs advice but when she asked me to reduce 40 to 30 I remembered spomeone said here not to reduce more than 5mg then 2-3 weeks later reduce by another 5mg. I told her I was on this Citalopram forum & she agreed I should reduce by 5mg first. So two weeks later I reduced to 30mg. I'm not having side effects apart from I'm very lethargic & tired on Citalopram. It's so hard coming off these drugs, it took me ages before. Good luck, you'll feel better talking with others who feel much as you do.

  • Thankyou for the responses it does help knowing other people are feeling the same. i am going to stay on the 10mg everyday and go to see my GP just for some reassurance. Feels silly being sat crying and not being able to control it. Just waved my parents off on holiday and im a mess worrying about them already. I seem to worry about things that are beyond my control. I find it hard to distract myself when im feeling like this....does anyone have any good suggestions?? Thanks x

  • Hi gemnewby,

    I started on citalopram for anxiety 3 weeks ago but have had to stop them due to unpleasant side effects. I think the doc will try me on something else but I have been in limbo for a week and have felt my anxiety getting worse. I have found one thing that really helps when I feel a panic attack coming on and that is to sit down with your palms face down on something. Close your eyes and think about 5 things you can hear and 5 things you can feel. Really concentrate on those things and elaborate on them in your head. My breathing has usually returned to normal by the time I've thought about 3 or 4 things I can hear or feel. Once calm, congratulate yourself and treat yourself to something! Takes a bit of practice initially but it really helps me. Hope that helps you! x

  • Hi there!

    Have you discussed your experience and current situation with your GP who prescribed these in the first place?

    Were you weaning yourself off under supervision of your GP? I would suggest talking things over with him and take his professional advice. Also you don't say whether have you supplemented your medication with counselling services, which really helped me several years ago coming off benzodiazipines (long before SSRI's were invented). You should certainly never just stop taking meds (cold turkey) or else risk a severe backlash making you feel worse still! In the last 5 years, I have had 3 periods on Paroxetine (Seroxat is the trade name) all of which took around 6 months to wean off, although only taking a low dose. So take it steady, all of us can relapse with our symptoms at some time or other. Don't despair if you have to up the dosage a little for a short while again. When you feel up to it, starting the weaning off again. Ok, so it took a little longer than planned, who cares?? It's your health and well being that counts!!

    Hang in there!!

  • Hi there Gems i had to reply to your problem i started with panic and anxiety aprox 7 years ago after what i now know to be a massive panic attack although i have had doctors/councelling etc it never seems to completely go away its still lurks under the surface. At the moment i am on Citalopram 30mg taken in three times 10mg a day morning noon night .My doctor has decided i could be on them long term and as i have been in some pretty dark places over the last year i think its a good idea to keep the tablets going as long as it keeps you well !!! the problem is getting them into your system the side affects ie bad dreams more panic etc are worth the effort once it settles down you get some sort of normality back. i can relate exactly to what you are feeling i've been there many times people think you look ok but they don't know your screaming in your head and you want to run away from it but you have nowhere to go---- it goes with you.I find i have a better day when i am busy with no time to think too much decide on doing something and do it . i know its frightening the fact your parents are going away but remember the only thing to fear is fear itself. you will get through believe me bye Allen Leeds

  • Hi Gem. I am on 20 mg citalopram and have been for quite a while for panic attacks and social anxiety and the occassional depression I get. I would echo what many people seem to be saying that it is perfectly ok to continue to be citalopram, and 20mg really is an average dosage. I dropped down to 10mg and a small concern triggered off panic attacks, so I went back to 20 mg and have stayed there ever since, I personally feel much more comfortable being on 20 mg. Citalopram is something you need to wean off/reduce dosage very slowly...and 100% under doctor's supervision. As for distractions well each person is different but things that work for me are reading, watching telly, listening to music(try and focus solely on these things). I don't know where you are at with friends/family local to you but if you can be with other people socially that is always a great distraction, plus I have found recently that if you are open with people about your panic attacks they are understanding and want to help. A little thing that works for me is chewing on gum, just the rhythm and focus seems to help. If I come across any other distractions I will let you know. Also having posted on here you will have seen that there are people on here with similar issues who want to help, so please keep bringing your concerns to this forum. Take care and all the best, you are not alone, Simon.

  • Thankyou all so much for your messages, it really does feel good knowing we are all in this together. Feeling much better already and am back at work now which is great :) and thanks for the advice on good distractions, i'll be giving them all a try.

  • Glad that everyone's advice has been of help and that you are feeling a bit better. You are right we are all in this together, so if you ever need more advice or support, please just get in touch. Take care, Simon.

  • hi there. I myself are in a bad place at the moment. taking diazapam as and when I need to. what I find extremly helpfull is group therapy as everyone there is in the same situation as us.

  • To all. Tapering the dosage of Diazipams or Antidepesants can be difficult. Can I refer you all to the website of PROFESSOR ASHTON who has done much work on withdral symptoms and whose work I have found extremely helpful. She spent thirty odd years researching this problem and gives a very useful tapering table on her website. Just punching up "Professor Ashton" puts you on to the site. It is known that Diazipam can be very addictive that is why it is only recommended for short periods. Antidepressants are not so difficult to come off. (I speak from experience).

  • I was on cipralex for 6 years. I have come off them now, but the withdrawal symptoms were awful and I never want to experience them ever. I would not have gone on them if I had know what the effects would have been. I got down to 5mg and stayed there for a long time as getting down any lower would just start the symptoms off again. In Jan of this year, I decided that I would try to come off them again. It has taken a while but now I do not take any cipralex.However, after getting through the withdrawal effects, ie sickness, anger, head aches, flu like syptoms, tingling sensation one one side of my face (thought I was having a stoke) and many more, I am now left with feelings I never had before I went on the cipralex. I am hoping these will go with time. Trying the gym, lots of vitamins etc and trying to keep busy and positive. Hope this helps anyone.

  • I was on citalopram 20mg for about 6 weeks had flu like symptoms for about 2 weeks felt great in myself tho but had a continual sore throat. Then about a week ago i started to see small spots on my hands at first and then the odd one in other places.

    I went for my 3 weekly check up and my doctor told me to stop taking them and has given me Sertraline 50mg to take but not while i still have side effects from citalopram.

    I'v had a headache for 3 days now, very teary and basically feel crap having just stopped them. I can't understand why my doctor just stopped them straight away. From what i have read on here they stop them gradually.

  • am on 40mg as much as depression n anxity ruled my life life style changes helped stoping drinking and getting out of a dead marrage yes citralapram affected the sexual side erectil distinction now am relaxed and happy n the sex part is back

  • Thank you all for these I know I am not alone, I've been on 20mg celexa for over 2 years and thought it was time to start getting off these. I feel pretty good and asked my doctor if I could. he suggested I do this slowly. I did so slowly (or at least I thought so) .

    I west from taking my 20 mg day yes and skipped one day, This for bout 2 weeks.

    Then I took my 20 mg and skipped 2 days. Started ok and It finally hit me today really bad, Severe headache, dizziness whereby I could not walk properly, bad nausea! I called my pharmacist and she explained these were classic symptoms She also suggested I slow the weaning process down a little and stay in that stage for a longer than 2 weeks,.

    Now I will take my 20 mg, then skip a day, 3rd day take a half pill (10 mg) . I will hold this pattern for at least 3 weeks .

    The next step would be to go to 10 mg one day, skip one and 10 mg the third day. one on and one off y using 10 MG

    This new process will take longer but I hope I never feel like I did today. I had to leave work immediately. Could not remember my drive home! Not Good!

    thanks you all for sharing your experiences. Makes me feel "normal"


    PS forgot to mention the non stop crying and feeling scared and panicked ! Lack of concentration, Can't sleep...1:00 AM now and wide awake here. I am always so tired for no reason. Lastly my favorite...can't stop eating ! put o 20 lbs,....that's enough!

  • I was on Citalopram for 15 YEARS. I am now in the process of weaning off from 10 mgs. I am working closely with my GP and find this is the best way to do it. Do not do it alone. First thing we did was switch me to the liquid form where I use a syringe to measure out my dose. The first reduction was from 10 mgs to 8 mgs. I ended up going thru hell but I stuck with it and prayed. It screwed with my short term memory, my balance, my sleep became fractured (could only sleep 4 hrs at a time- wake up for an hour or two- then back to sleep for another 2-3 hrs. I could not stop belching (I guess it messes up your nervous system) and I had pronounced heart palpitations. Then I started throwing up. I thought I had the Roto Virus as it was really violent. That lasted 3 days. I was overall VERY weak and layed down A LOT. It took exactly 2 months and 2 days to feel good again. Then after another 2 months I dropped one more milligram. Much less of a problem. Waited about 6 weeks and then dropped one more mg. That is where I am now. I am at 6 mgs. and holding for now as I am about to take some classes and I don't want any interference. My advice to everyone who is attempting to wean off of this stuff: switch to the liquid form, don't drop more than 2 mgs. Per month, work closely with your physician, AND STOP ALL CAFFEINE. This is important as caffeine promotes anxiety. I would also suggest stopping any alcohol and/or cigarettes. ALSO - EXERCISE. Work your body out hard at least 3 time per week. Lastly - drink tons of purified water.

  • Good advice Ginaxxx, I've been through that and it's true, slow cuts under the direction of your doctor makes it a safe way to wean.

    I wish you success. Good Luck x

  • I've been an idiot. Took citalopram for 2 years (30mg) but stopped suddenly 2 weeks ago. I'm now a wreck. Anxious, shaky, mood swings, temper, can't sleep yet I feel exhausted, my mind feels fuzzy. I'm up and down like nothing on earth. I'm 43 and started taking it when my husband had an affair and left me and our 3 children. I'm in a happy relationship but fear I'm pushing him away with my anxiety that he'll do what my husband did.

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