How long do Citalopram withdrawal symptoms last?

In this article, we answer the following question: How long do Citalopram withdrawal symptoms last? We also address the issue of safely stopping antidepressants and anxiolytics. 

How long do Citalopram withdrawal symptoms last?

If you stop taking Citalopram suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, agitation, dizziness, numbness, tingling or electric shock sensations in the hands or feet, anxiety, confusion, headache, tiredness, nausea, and sweating.

Withdrawal symptoms usually come on within 5 days of stopping the medicine and generally last for up to 6 weeks.

How to safely stop antidepressants?

Antidepressants are effective and safe –in addition to saving lives–, but like all medications, certain guidelines must be followed both when taking it and when stopping it. In cases of depression, the most common is that people who have suffered from this disorder give up their consumption about six months after – on average – the illness has disappeared.

It may seem like a long time, but depression is not a simple cold and antidepressants are not aspirin. Perhaps this is the reason why the first advice is not to take them longer than is strictly necessary since lengthening the treatment too long can make it more difficult to stop them, and that more side effects appear.

Taking these medications longer than necessary makes it harder to stop later.

In this sense, in a report presented last year to the British Parliament it was said that 56% of people who try to get rid of antidepressants suffer withdrawal effects, and 46% of those who suffer describe them as serious. 

Stopping an antidepressant suddenly can cause anxiety, insomnia, headache, dizziness, tiredness, irritability, nausea, feelings of electric shock, and the reappearance of symptoms of depression. Reasons enough to do it properly.

56% of people who try it suffer withdrawal effects. 

Each patient has its particularities, and each drug has specific characteristics, some are more activating and others more sedative. The receptor profile is different, and therefore we must perform a de-escalation according to the type of drug and also according to the objective and subjective characteristics of the patient.

In addition, within antidepressants and anxiolytics, there are several families, so the de-escalation or suspension of the dose should always be done under the guidance of a specialized psychiatrist. Most antidepressant drugs must be withdrawn gradually, so the dose must be lowered until we reach the smallest dose of that drug that we have a presentation at the pharmacy. 

Once we are at this smaller dose point, the pill will be halved for a set period of time, and then alternate days until discontinued. If the withdrawal is done in a gradual and gradual manner, the patient does not have to notice any withdrawal symptoms. 

If the patient feels more anxious, restless, with some emotional lability or more irritable, we have to increase the dose again until this symptom disappears, and we will stay at this dose for a set time and, once the situation has stabilized, we will return to start the dose de-escalation. 

Stopping anxiolytics

Regarding anxiolytics, there are other additional factors that we must take into account: the dose of the drug that the patient was taking, the number of daily doses, the time that the patient has been taking the medication, the number of previous times that it has taken, the degree of anxiety that the patient had previously and whether the environmental stressors have subsided. 

In this case, there are several methods to carry out the gradual withdrawal, but the most frequent is, initially, to see what type of anxiolytic the patient takes: ultra-short, short, medium or long half-life. 

Once we know this, the main thing is to go from those ultra-short, short or medium-life anxiolytics to those with a longer half-life, since these require fewer daily intakes and, frequently, fewer doses. Once anxiety is stabilized with these drugs, we also begin to decrease its dose gradually and very gradually. 

It is important first to reduce the dose and then the number of shots. Depending on the pathology that motivated the regimen of taking an anxiolytic, de-escalation will begin before taking it at night or in the morning. 

It is common that if it is done too quickly, the patient manifests abstinence symptoms or a rebound effect, with an increase in basal anxiety, which may be equal to or greater than the symptoms presented by that person before taking the medication,” concludes this psychiatrist.

With anxiolytics, the first thing is to go from short-lived to longer-lived, to take less.

That is why it is important to highlight that these changes must always be supervised by a professional since if they are not done well there is a risk that later if these drugs need to be reintroduced, the body will not respond in the same way.

What is Citalopram?

Citalopram is an antidepressant drug that has been produced since 1989. This drug, popularly known as Celexa, is included in the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

This type of drug increases the amount of serotonin by preventing it from being recaptured. The main function of serotonin is to maintain harmony, balance and emotional well-being, which is essential when intervening in emotional disturbances such as depressive disorders or in conditions with anxiety symptoms.

Furthermore, compared to other antidepressants, citalopram discharges large amounts of analgesic substances with an effect as strong as that of morphine. This has earned him fame as a very effective antidepressant.

The effectiveness of any drug also depends upon the time it takes to work. Same is the case for Citalopram.

How is it administered?

The use of this medicine must always be indicated by medical personnel, and it is essential to follow its instructions to the letter. Usually, a daily dose of 20 mg is recommended, which should be taken, if possible, either in the morning or at night. 

However, depending on the patient’s symptoms and the effects that the drug causes on the patient, it is possible that this dose increases to 60 mg per day.

Regardless of the patient’s condition or conditions, in no case may the patient alter the recommended dose at his own discretion. In other words, you cannot increase or decrease the dose, nor can you take it more frequently than indicated.

The first effects of citalopram on mood appear between 3 and 4 weeks after starting consumption, so the patient should not stop taking it despite not feeling the effects immediately.

What are the side effects?

Citalopram carries a series of unwanted side effects that can cause a series of discomfort for the person.

These effects can be divided into non-serious side effects and serious side effects. In the event that the patient experiences any of the non-serious side effects repeatedly it is recommended that they inform their doctor to adjust the dose of citalopram.

While if you experience any of the symptoms included in the list of serious side effects it is vital that you contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Non-serious side effects:

Among the most serious side effects are the following.

  • Gastric problems such as stomach pain, diarrhoea, or heartburn.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Alterations in appetite.
  • Decreased weight.
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Tremors
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Oral dryness.
  • Alterations in sexual desire or performance.
  • Heavy bleeding in menstruation.
  • Serious side effects

The most serious side effects associated with this drug are the following.

  • Fever.
  • Choking feelings.
  • Fainting.
  • Chest pain.
  • Heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Hyperhidrosis or profuse sweating.
  • Feeling confused
  • Coordination problems.
  • Muscle numbness or muscle contractions.
  • Skin disorders such as hives, blisters, rash, and itching.
  • Swallowing problems
  • Swelling in faces, throat, ankles, and legs.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Recurrent headaches.
  • Bleeding or bruising for no apparent reason.
  • Lack of concentration and feeling of instability.
  • Seizures.

What precautions should those who consume Citalopram take?

Those people who must start treatment with Citalopram should inform their doctor about their allergies, other conditions or any special health condition in which the patient is.

In addition, due to the effects and interferences that may be caused, you should also inform about any medication, vitamin supplement or natural compound that the patient is consuming during treatment.

As for alcohol consumption, it can aggravate the side effects of citalopram, so it is advisable not to consume any type of alcoholic beverage during treatment.

Like other drugs in this category, citalopram often causes drowsiness, so patients should avoid or take special precautions when driving or operating heavy machinery.

Finally, it has been shown that Citalopram can cause negative effects in newborns if it is administered during the last months of pregnancy. Therefore, the patient must inform if she is pregnant or if she intends to be since the doctor must assess which medication is the best for both the mother’s and the baby’s health.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQ on How long do Citalopram withdrawal symptoms last

How long does citalopram withdrawal last?

Withdrawal symptoms of Citalopram usually last for up to 6 weeks. Taking these medications longer than necessary makes it harder to stop later.

What are the side effects of coming off citalopram?

The side effects of coming off citalopram that you may experience are mood swings, irritability, agitation, dizziness, numbness, tingling or electric shock sensations in the hands or feet, anxiety, confusion, headache, tiredness, nausea, and sweating.

How long can you stay on citalopram?

You can stay on Citalopram as long as your doctor prescribes it. Usually, people take it for 6 months, 9 months is a more rare case. 

Is citalopram good for anxiety?

Yes, citalopram is good for anxiety disorder. More popular by the name of social phobia, this type of disorder is distinguished in that the person experiences a deep feeling of fear and anxiety in one or more social situations in which they must interact with other people.

Is it better to take citalopram in the morning or at night?

It is up to you to take Citalopram either in the morning or at night. However, in the first 2 or 3 weeks of taking it, this medicine may make you feel dizzy and sleepy. It is better to talk to your doctor about the side effects of Citalopram. 

How do you know if citalopram is working?

You will know that Citalopram is working when your symptoms will become less severe or will happen less often. You will slowly start feeling like yourself again. But you have to be patient, as it may take several weeks before starting to see the effects of Citalopram. 

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: How long do Citalopram withdrawal symptoms last? We also addressed the issue of safely stopping antidepressants and anxiolytics. 

Withdrawal symptoms of Citalopram usually come on within 5 days of stopping the medicine and generally last for up to 6 weeks. If you stop taking Citalopram suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, agitation, dizziness, numbness, tingling or electric shock sensations in the hands or feet, anxiety, confusion, headache, tiredness, nausea, and sweating.

Each patient has its particularities, and each drug has specific characteristics, some are more activating and others more sedative. The receptor profile is different, and therefore we must perform a de-escalation according to the type of drug and also according to the objective and subjective characteristics of the patient.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

Nhs.uk – Citalopram

Drugs.com – User Reviews for Citalopram to treat Anxiety and Stress

Medicines.org.uk – Citalopram 10mg Tablet

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