Are you coming off citalopram after 10 years? (Best way to do that)

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In this blog post, we are going to talk about the best way to come off citalopram after 10 years. Citalopram is an antidepressant which is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. 

Discontinuation of antidepressants after long-term treatment is not an easy task. One must take all the precautions necessary to ensure safe withdrawal of this antidepressant. 

What is the best way to come off citalopram after 10 years?

The best way to come off citalopram after 10 years is gradual dose tapering. Taking citalopram for such a long period of time makes your body dependent on this antidepressant. Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). 

It inhibits the reuptake of serotonin by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). This causes an increase in active amounts of serotonin to bind to its respective receptors. Now, you can imagine that 10 years with citalopram can make your body completely dependent on this med. 

The rise in serotonin concentration can not only become dependent on this antidepressant, but your actual cells stop releasing this excitatory neurotransmitter without the presence of your antidepressant. 

This makes your body’s own physiological function of releasing serotonin insufficient. When you stop taking this antidepressant suddenly or over a short period of time, this makes your body deficient in serotonin. 

Your brain literally waits for the drug in order to release this chemical, but as you have stopped taking it, it doesn’t happen. Instead, your cells start craving serotonin and don’t take its deficiency too well. 

This makes you go through the disturbing symptoms associated with Citalopram-discontinuation syndrome. 

How bad is Citalopram-Discontinuation Syndrome?

Citalopram-Discontinuation Syndrome occurs when you stop using citalopram after continuous treatment. This syndrome can take a dreadful turn if you have been taking this antidepressant for 10 years.

The signs and symptoms associated with Citalopram-Discontinuation Syndrome include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Gastrointestinal side effects 
  • Headaches
  • Emotional stress or constant crying
  • Inability to concentrate or think clearly 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Awkward behaviour 
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Fever with chills
  • Feeling suffocated with excessive sweating 
  • Insomnia or somnolence 
  • Nightmares

The above mentioned symptoms are the most common symptoms associated with sudden citalopram withdrawal. As stated earlier, it can take a deadly turn if you have been taking this antidepressant for a long period of time. 

It can lead to hospitalisation and it may cause a relapse of your mental health condition for which you have been taking citalopram. 

What is the importance of dose tapering?

Dose tapering is an important technique for the withdrawal of antidepressants, in a safe and effective manner. Antidepressants are known to produce dependence. 

As we know, SSRIs increase the availability of serotonin. So, if you abruptly stop taking it, your receptors which are dependent on it will start to have a major impact of serotonin deficiency.

This is why dose tapering is important. It is a safe and effective method to withdraw SSRIs. Your healthcare provider simply just reduces the dose of your antidepressant. 

It enables you to start taking medicine in lesser quantities without completely depriving your receptors of serotonin. After spending a week or two, the med is on its lowest possible dose and now it is considered safe for you to stop using it.

Instead of stopping it cold turkey, consult your healthcare provider. Your doctor gradually decreases the dose over the period of weeks, to ensure safe and effective withdrawal of citalopram and other SSRIs. 

Never stop your meds, especially those which produce addiction and tolerance, without your doctor’s approval, otherwise you will suffer from discontinuation syndrome.

How long do these withdrawal symptoms last?

Different factors affect the duration of your withdrawal symptoms. One of these factors include the half-life of the drug. Drugs with longer half lives produce withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time. Half life of citalopram is 30-36 hours. 

Most people experience the first symptoms of withdrawal within one to three days after their last dose. Even if you taper off, you may still experience some symptoms. 

During days four to five, the symptoms may become more intense, depending on the dose you were on and the duration of your therapy. Some people experience dizziness, nausea, shakiness and fever. 

Your symptoms will gradually start to fade away in a week or two. It, too, depends on how your body reacts to this withdrawal. 

It is extremely important to follow your taper schedule vigilantly. It may take longer than you think it should, but it’s important to go slowly, so your brain has enough time to adjust the doses. 

Within a few weeks, it will be safe to stop using your med. Don’t mess up your taper schedule, if you wish to prevent discontinuation syndrome and the disturbing symptoms that come with it.

Is there anything you can try to make citalopram withdrawal a little easier?

It usually takes afew weeks for your body to function without antidepressants. There are a few lifestyle changes that can boost up your serotonin levels naturally and really help you in managing your withdrawal symptoms. 

Give your body time to adapt

Your body needs time to get used to the absence of medication. SSRIs are known to produce addiction and your body actually craves it. This effect is found much more intense in people who have been taking SSRIs for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms begin to subside in 3 to 4 weeks. 

Diet

Diet is a crucial part of your lifestyle. It has the potential to make your life better or worse. Diet is one of the best ways to boost your serotonin. Here is the list of foods that are high in serotonin

  • Eggs
  • Pineapples
  • Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Nuts and seeds

Wholesome and nutritious food also helps you keep strong and healthy. It can help boost your immune system. 

Exercise

Exercise is a beneficial addition to your lifestyle. It helps you in so many ways. Make sure you workout at least 3 to 4 times a week. Exercise is known for releasing happy chemicals in your brain. 

It not only makes you feel good, but also spikes your energy levels.  Enjoy going for long walks. Learn new yoga moves, as yoga is one of the best ways to relax your racing mind.

Exposure to sunlight

Research shows a close relationship between sunlight and serotonin levels in your body. Go for a walk in the morning or afternoon to boost your serotonin and to enhance your sleep quality. 

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water. Water clears out toxins from your body. Try making a detox water by adding your favourite fruits in it. You can add lemon, cucumber, kiwi, oranges, berries, ginger etc, to make drinking water less boring. 

This will not only add taste, but also makes your water nutritious and full of antioxidants. 

Psychotherapy sessions, 2-3 times a week

Psychotherapy can be useful for people battling with negative emotions. Such therapy can take all the negative energy in you and convert it into positive thoughts which are beneficial to guide you out of your depression and hopelessness. 

Some therapies can also give you a platform to talk about your depression symptoms, if they ever come back. You can also try group therapy sessions which can help you learn about other people battling with depression or antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.

Listen to your healthcare professional

Talk to your mental healthcare professional about whether or not it’s a good time for you to discontinue your medication. Do not go against your doctor’s recommendation. 

You might feel like leaving your meds once you start feeling better but sometimes, it’s just your brain playing tricks on you. As soon as you’re tricked to stop it, it all comes rushing back. It is crucial for you to listen to your healthcare provider before making any decision yourself. 

Conclusion

In this blog, we discussed the best way to come off citalopram after 10 years. We also talked about the importance of dose tapering and how you should never stop your antidepressant abruptly. We also discussed some lifestyle changes that might help make your journey a little easier. 

Citalopram, an antidepressant, should not be stopped abruptly. You should always consult your healthcare provider if you wish to stop citalopram. Do not stop any medication that affects your brain on your own, especially when you have been taking it for a long time.

Your doctor prepares a taper schedule for you, in order to ensure safe withdrawal while minimising withdrawal symptoms in best possible ways. Make sure you follow your taper schedule vigilantly and avoid non-adherence. 

FAQs: coming off citalopram after 10 years

Can I take citalopram for 10 years?

Yes, you can take citalopram for 10 or more years if needed. Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It inhibits the reuptake of serotonin by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). This causes an increase in active amounts of serotonin to bind to its respective receptors. This is how it counteracts the symptoms associated with depression.

How long after stopping citalopram will I feel normal?

Your body does go back to normal after you stop using antidepressants, but it takes time and this time taken depends on the duration of your antidepressant therapy. It could take up to 10 months to go back to your normal serotonin levels, after long-term antidepressant therapy.

What happens if you take citalopram for years?

When you take citalopram for years, your body becomes completely dependent on it. The rise in serotonin concentration can not only become dependent on this antidepressant, but your actual cells stop releasing this excitatory neurotransmitter without the presence of your antidepressant. 

This makes your body’s own physiological function of releasing serotonin insufficient. When you stop taking this antidepressant suddenly or over a short period of time, this makes your body deficient in serotonin.

Can you ever come off citalopram?

Yes, you can come off citalopram but it depends on the duration of your treatment. The longer the duration of treatment, the longer it will take to come off this antidepressant completely. 

What can I replace citalopram with?

You can replace citalopram with other SSRIs including sertraline, escitalopram, fluoxetine, and paroxetine. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can also be used.

What is the best way to wean off citalopram?

The best way to wean off citalopram is gradual dose tapering. Taking citalopram for such a long period of time makes your body dependent on this antidepressant. It is not recommended to stop taking it abruptly. Your brain literally waits for the drug in order to release this chemical, but as you have stopped taking it, it doesn’t happen. Instead, your cells start craving serotonin and don’t take its deficiency too well. 

References

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