How long does Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms last?

As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

This blog post will explore how long Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms last and what one can expect with Citalopram withdrawal.

We will also briefly discuss what Citalopram is, it’s side effects, how to take the drug, and the precautions that involve the use of Citalopram. 

How long does Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms last?

Citalopram withdrawal symptoms can last between one or two weeks upto a few months. 

Citalopram withdrawal onset occurs after a few days- approximately five days- after one comes off the drug or one’s last dose. The more severe the withdrawal symptoms are the longer the symptoms last. 

For less severe withdrawal symptoms of citalopram, the withdrawal can last for up to two weeks whereas severe symptoms due to high dosage and sudden cessation of treatment can last up to months. 

Usually, when the individual’s discontinuation with the drug is done in a way that involves tapering off from the medication by gradual decrease in dose for weeks- months even- until there is no drug used at all, the symptoms tend to resolve by two weeks. 

However it is possible that when people have used citalopram for a long period of time and in high doses, the antidepressant withdrawal symptoms can persist for several weeks or months- up to six months. 

What is Citalopram Withdrawal?

Citalopram withdrawal refers to the withdrawal process which occurs when a person stops taking the medication citalopram, an antidepressant. This occurs due to the changes in the levels of serotonin in the drain due to the discontinued use of the drug. 

While it is common for people to experience withdrawal symptoms when coming off of antidepressants, Citalopram tends to have less of a risk for withdrawal as compared to other antidepressants. 

Experts believe that this is because of the drug’s longer half life. Citalopram has a half-life of 38–48 hours meaning that it takes approximately two days to reduce the amount of active substances from citalopram in the body; this tends to cause fewer withdrawal symptoms as the withdrawal does not hit too fast/soon nor too hard.

The withdrawal symptoms related to Citalopram occurs because when you take SSRIs such as citalopram regularly for an extended time, the brain becomes accustomed to this elevated level of serotonin.

When this level decreases due to the discontinuation of the use of this drug or the reduction of dosage, the brain takes time to adjust to this lower level of serotonin and it may take days to weeks for the brain to do so. 

What are the symptoms of Citalopram withdrawal?

The withdrawal symptoms of Citalopram include:

  • an electric shock-like sensation in the head
  • Anxiety and anxiety related symptoms. 
  • changes in mood, such as irritability, and mood swings
  • digestive complaints such as diarrhoea, nausea, cramps, and vomiting
  • dizziness or vertigo related to imbalance. 
  • Fatigue and tiredness that is not appropriate to activity done.
  • feeling “detached” from life or others
  • Chills and body aches
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Tinnitus
  • sleep problems, including distressing dreams
  • thoughts of suicide and suidical behavior

What is Citalopram?

Citalopram is an antidepressant and is part of a class of antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). 

Celexa, the brand name of citalopram,  is FDA-approved and prescribed by physicians for the treatment for the symptoms of major depression. It is also to be mentioned that the drug is also prescribed for off label uses to treat anxiety disorders such as- PTSD, Panic disorder, and also eating disorders. 

How does Citalopram Affect The Brain and Body?

Citalopram is believed to treat depression by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance, in the brain.

It is a SSRI- a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor which means that the drug slows down the uptake of serotonin in the brain making the levels of the neurochemical higher for people with depression who are typically observed to have lowered levels of serotonin.  

It is to be mentioned that this drug can affect not just the brain chemicals but also one’s bodies. It can cause various side effects such as lethargy, nausea, dry mouth, loss of appetite, blurred vision, and increased yawning. 

What are the side effects of citalopram?

Like all medicines, citalopram can cause side effects, however it is important to mention that many people who take the drug did not experience side effects or when they did, they were minor. 

Common side effects

  • dry mouth
  • sweating a lot
  • being unable to sleep
  • feeling sleepy
  • feeling tired or weak

Serious side effects

  • chest pain 
  • shortness of breath
  • severe dizziness or passing out
  • painful erections 
  • any irregular bleeding that do not stop within 10 minutes

Common side effects of this drug usually improve as your body gets used to the drug and might even disappear after prolonged use. If you observe any serious side effects, reach out to your doctor immediately. 

However, if you notice that the symptoms persist even after two weeks, it is best that you speak to your doctor to adjust a more appropriate dose. 

How to take citalopram?

The best way to take citalopram is exactly as prescribed by your doctor while also being educated about the directions given on your prescription label. 

The usual dose of citalopram is 20mg a day in adults however your doctor might start you at a lower dose and increase to a maximum dose of 40mg a day.

If you’re over the age of 65, or have liver problems, the maximum recommended dose is 20mg a day.

In children 10mg a day is the recommended usage, but this may be increased to 40mg a day while with liquid drops of citalopram, 4 drops is equivalent to a 10mg tablet.

Make sure that you keep using the drug as prescribed even if it might seem like there are no improvements as it takes up to 4 weeks for symptoms to improve. 

Do not stop using citalopram suddenly as you might experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Discontinuing the use of this drug must be under the guidance or observation of your physician. 

What are the risks and precautions when taking citalopram?

Some of the precautions and risks you should be aware of when taking this drug include:

  • Allergy of citalopram or escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • if you also take pimozide.
  • If you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days.
  • If you have a bleeding or blood clotting disorder
  • If you have a liver or kidney disease;
  • If you have narrow-angle glaucoma;
  • If you experience seizures or epilepsy;
  • If you are at risk of heart disease, heart failure, or recent history of heart attack;
  • If you have a personal or family history of Long QT syndrome;
  • Experience an electrolyte imbalance (such as low levels of potassium or magnesium)
  • If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • Or have a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts.
  • If you are trying to become pregnant, already pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you have diabetes, citalopram can make it difficult to keep your blood sugar stable.

If you are at risk of any of these factors mentioned above, make sure that you speak to your doctor and keep them informed because discussing the use of citalopram for the treatment of depression.

What is the best way to get off of Citalopram?

The best way to stop pharmacological treatment of antidepressants if you find that your depression symptoms have abated and your doctor and you believe that you can now do without the drugs, is to consider the tapering off approach. 

This approach is most effective to get off of any drug to help individuals avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. This involves reducing your dose over the course of several weeks or months in increments. 

This change and lowering of dosage can be done by your doctor so it is important that you meet your doctor regularly and do not miss appointments during this process of tapering off. 

While tapering off cannot stop withdrawal symptoms from emerging, studies have shown that it can help people manage withdrawal symptoms in much better ways until they are completely off the drug. 

How to cope with Citalopram withdrawal?

Sme of the ways you can cope if you or someone you know is struggling with Citalopram Withdrawal include:

  • Going forward with the tapering-off approach if one wants to come off Citalopram which is usually advised by doctors . It involves reducing antidepressant dosage slowly — usually over at least 4 weeks if one has been taking the drug for long periods of time and in higher doses to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. 
  • One can also consider taking medication to cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Some withdrawal symptoms may respond to medications. For example, people can try using sleep medications for insomnia related to withdrawal. 
  • Regular medical checkups and seeing your doctor regularly during the withdrawal process can help people better manage their symptoms better as well as keep track of possible recurring depression symptoms. 
  • Considering psychotherapy options such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can help in the process of withdrawal and treatment discontinuation while preventing relapse. 
  • Lifestyle changes such as taking effort to exercise regularly, get good sleep, and eat a balanced diet can help people manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Seeking out support from family and support groups can also be an effective strategy to help someone cope with the withdrawal process. 

Conclusion

This blog post has explored how long Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms last and what one can expect with Citalopram withdrawal.

We have also briefly discussed what Citalopram is, it’s side effects, how to take the drug, and the precautions that involve the use of Citalopram. 

FAQ related to How long does Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms last?

How long after stopping antidepressants before I feel normal again?

It might take about 1–2 weeks or it can be longer in some cases before you stop experiencing withdrawal symptoms and start feeling normal again after stopping antidepressants. In some severe cases, it can veen take up to 6-12 months. 

What happens if you stop taking citalopram suddenly?

If you suddenly stop taking citalopram, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • an electric shock-like sensation in the head
  • Anxiety and anxiety related symptoms. 
  • changes in mood, such as irritability, and mood swings
  • digestive complaints such as diarrhoea, nausea, cramps, and vomiting
  • dizziness or vertigo related to imbalance. 
  • Fatigue and tiredness that is not appropriate to activity done.
  • feeling “detached” from life or others
  • Chills and body aches
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Tinnitus
  • sleep problems, including distressing dreams
  • thoughts of suicide and suidical behavior

These symptoms can make it hard for you to go about your daily life and might also put you at risk for resurfacing depression symptoms. 

Which antidepressants have the worst withdrawal symptoms?

Paxil and Effexor often have more intense withdrawal symptoms because of their short half-lives and leave the body faster than drugs which can cause sudden imbalance of chemicals in the brain leading to faster and severe withdrawal symptoms. 

How do I come off 10mg of citalopram?

The best way to stop pharmacological treatment of antidepressants if you find that your depression symptoms have abated and your doctor and you believe that you can now do without the drugs, is to consider the tapering off approach. 

This approach is most effective to get off of any drug to help individuals avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. This involves reducing your dose over the course of several weeks or months in increments. 

References

Citalopram-Brand name: Cipramil. NHS. 10th Dec, 2018. Retrieved on 18th Nov, 2021. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/citalopram/

Osborn.C. How Long Does Withdrawal From Celexa Last? Verywell well. Retrieved on 6th January 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/celexa-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline-and-treatment-4771846#toc-coping–relief

Leonard.J.What to know about citalopram withdrawal. Medicalnewstoday. 27th April 2021. Retrieved on 6th january 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/citalopram-withdrawal

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.