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☼ koto: citalopram wd


koto

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August 24th, I was still a teenager, and offered a thc (10mg) edible from my mom. Once it set in, I had the scariest experience of my life. The panic was so bad I couldn’t move. My body felt nothing but war, red hot agony burning its way down my throat and scraping against my nerves. I have no other way to describe it other than a “panic attack,” though I’ve never had a panic attack before. The first “attack” lasted for about 4 hours straight, then hourly attacks occurred up to 5 days after. Conveniently I had also upped my Citalopram dose a month prior (from 10mg to 20mg). I can’t pinpoint if this is a “thc overdose” or serotonin syndrome. I told my doctor about what I had experienced but I couldn’t tell her about the thc part because it’s not allowed in my state for underage people. She diagnosed me with serotonin syndrome based on the symptoms I told her, but I’m not sure if that was actually the problem. 

 

Symptoms experienced with the attacks were: seizures, huge rush of anxiety and impending doom, throat tightness, trouble breathing, convulsing, burning, shaking/tremor/shivering, sweating/night sweats, paresthesia, numbness, no appetite, mental fog/confusion, heart racing, palpitations, diarrhea, and insomnia. I really wanted to go to the hospital, but I was reassured by my mom I was just having a “bad trip.”

 

After that day, I tried to taper down my Citalopram under the conclusion that it was both the medication and thc. I had also been addicted to caffeine, and using 1 claritin in the morning and 2 benadryl at night. I stopped everything at once. I say it was a “taper” for my Citalopram but it was way too fast. After the first 5 days, I took 20mg. Waited 3 days, took 20mg again. Waited 3 days, split pill in ½ (10mg). Waited 3 days, split pill in ¼ (5mg). Then I went completely off meds by 9/7 (2 weeks after). The reason I was rushing was because the anxiety was crippling. I was scared of everything. Songs, daylight, food, sleep, walking, breathing—any ordinary thing became a trigger for my anxiety. I’d laid in the dark for weeks just trying to breathe. Nothing but breathing. I wanted to stop it and I thought if I changed everything at once it would eventually go away. I was wrong. 

 

At the beginning of my withdrawal symptoms (about 1 month later), I got covid so some symptoms are intertwined.  Symptoms include: anxiety, hair loss, weight loss, face burning sensation, cramping in hands, night sweats, no appetite, dry mouth, auditory hallucinations (buzzing, staticky or springy sounds), mental fog/confusion/poor memory, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, heart racing, palpitations, diarrhea, insomnia & vivid dreams, throat tightness sensation, brain zaps/electric shock sensations, “sand papery’’ or static sensation in nervous system, feeling like my body is on “backwards,” nausea, bloating, heartburn/acid reflux, irregular menstruation (early, prolonged, & spotting on ovulation), restless legs at night, noise sensitivity/migraines, cold sensitivity, crying spells (when I try to hold back from crying, chest gets heavy & I get a lump in throat feeling).

 

2 months after, I started having chest pain and my heart rate was in the 110s. I went to the instacare and bloodwork & EKG came back normal (except low potassium). They prescribed me 25mg of Hydroxyzine for anxiety, but it did not work and gave me terrible sleep paralysis. After a few days, the pain got worse and I went to the ER. EKG was normal and they gave me a stomach numbing liquid for heartburn. It did not work. After a few days, the pain went away and I can only suspect it was my anxiety. A week after, I got my blood drawn for a checkup and everything was normal. I also had a brain CT scan. Everything came back normal. 

 

The 3 month mark is when I started experiencing weirder physical symptoms. Once or twice a day, I get this prickly sensation in my body. It feels like my brain is shivering and my joints are rusty. I still have this and a strange “flicking” sensation in my brain that comes and goes, usually triggered by moving my head too fast or blinking. Things have been getting back to normal but it is extremely slow. I am 4 months away from that day. I still suffer from crippling anxiety and panic attacks almost daily. I still can’t drink caffeine without panic attacks. Recently I tried birth control but it made my anxiety backpedal and I had to stop after just one week.

 

So I guess now I’m just out of ideas on what to do. I don’t know why I am still having panic attacks when I’d never had them before. I have really bad medical anxiety and I keep telling myself there is something super wrong with me. I had to drop out of college because of my anxiety. Now my parents are pressuring me to get a job and move out but I feel like I can barely function. I can’t explain to anyone what I’m experiencing because I don’t know how to label it. I find it hard to believe all of this was caused by an edible or that I’d STILL be feeling the effects from it. I hope what I’m experiencing now is just withdrawals.

Escitalopram: 5mg  5/20 - 7/20, 10mg  8/20 - 1/21, (cold turkey), 5mg  6/21, 10mg  7/21, 20mg  8/21 - 11/21, 10mg  12/21 - 2/22, (cold turkey), 10mg  5/10/22  - 6/14/22, 20mg  7/15/22 - 8/24/22 (THC), 20mg  aug 25 & 26 & 29 & sep 1, 10mg 9/4/22, 5mg 9/7/22 (last dose)

Hydroxyzine:  12.5mg (as needed, discontinued)

Ativan: 4/17/23

Effexor: 3.5mg 4/19/23

Lamotrigine: 25mg 4/20/23, 12.5mg 4/22/23, 6.25mg 4/27/23

Clonidine: 0.05mg 5/15/23 - 5/18/23 (as needed)

 

Drug free for 1 year!!!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello, and welcome to SA.  We are a volunteer-run community of people who have been or are getting off of psychiatric drugs.  I'm very sorry for what you have gone through, which is quite a lot, between withdrawing from the SSRI, the THC edible you mom gave you, COVID, issues with the pill, and then your parents trying to push you into getting a job and moving out.  

 

In your post, you mention citalopram several times, but in your drug signature, you say escitalopram.  These are two different drugs.  Which is correct?  

 

On 12/24/2022 at 5:04 PM, koto said:

After the first 5 days, I took 20mg. Waited 3 days, took 20mg again. Waited 3 days, split pill in ½ (10mg). Waited 3 days, split pill in ¼ (5mg). Then I went completely off meds by 9/7 (2 weeks after).

Are you saying you were only taking the dose once every 3 days?  

 

Here is some important information about how these drugs actually work.  This explains why we get symptoms from going off of these medications, and why it's so important to taper slowly and carefully, and be very cautious about changing our doses: 

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

 

This helps you understand what withdrawal syndrome is: 

 

Video on Recovery from Psych Drugs

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

 

Here is a link with checklists of common WD symptoms: 

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen Withdrawal Symptom Checklists

 

 

Here are some techniques to cope with symptoms: 

 

Non Drug Ways to Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms

 

Stability is really important when we are tapering off psych meds.  Please read the link about stability:

 

Keep It Simple, Slow, and Stable

 

 

We don't suggest many supplements, but 2 that many of us find helpful are magnesium and omega-3 fish oil. Here are the links for info about those. It is suggested to add one at a time, and start with a low dose to see how it affects you. 


Magnesium

Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

I believe that what you are dealing with here is that your nervous system is destabilized from big and frequent dose changes of your SSRI drug over the past 7 months.  Your system was probably already in a fragile state, and taking the THC edible was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, and caused all the symptoms.  When we are tapering off psych drugs, our nervous systems tend to become hypersensitive to other psychoactive substances, such as THC, CBD oil, alcohol, and other street and presciption drugs, hormones like birth control, and even many supplements.  We suggest that you avoid using these things for a while, until your nervous system fully heals.  There is good news and bad news.  The bad news, is that it can take many months for a destabilized nervous system to stabilize itself, but the good news is, this is only temporary, and will come to an end.  You have time on your side, because you are very young.  The keys to overcoming this are natural self care, time, and patience.  Our brains are very very complex, and closely connected to all of our body systems, so your chest pains and other physical systems are likely caused by the fast taper off of your psych drug, and the THC edible.  It's good you had it checked out to rule out other causes.  Take care, and let us know how you are doing.  

Please do not private message me.  Only tag me for urgent questions about tapering and reinstating - thank you.  

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 2010 - 10 mg;  started taper August 2017, recent taper info: Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, multivitamin, zinc

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, extended release vitamin C, melatonin 2 mg

 

Paxil 2002 - 2010, switched to Lexapro 2010 

Trazodone 50 mg. 2002 - 2019, fast tapered in 2019 

Xanax 0.5 mg as needed 2002 - 2019, up to 3x weekly 

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29 minutes ago, getofflex said:

In your post, you mention citalopram several times, but in your drug signature, you say escitalopram.  These are two different drugs.  Which is correct?  

 

Are you saying you were only taking the dose once every 3 days?  

Totally my bad! I thought they were the same drug. I was definitely on Escitalopram. 

 

I was taking the 20mg dose daily until August 25th, after which I used 3 day intervals for 2 weeks. I didn’t know at the time but I thought taking “breaks” between doses would be the same as tapering to a lower dose. I had NO idea what I was doing & I wasn’t in the best mental state to ask my doctor or research online. 

 

 

Thank you so much for your response! I too was thinking that the edible wasn’t necessary the “cause” of everything, but the final catalyst of a problem that had been building up after months of cold turkeys and jumping around dosages. I had also not been taking care of my body either, abusing alcohol and succumbing to a really bad ED. All these things just added fuel to the fire.

 

Also, my original post was written quite anxiously so to add some positivity I’d like to clarify that I am doing “better” than I was at the beginning. I remember being so consumed by anxiety I had to actually walk in circles all day. I couldn’t listen to music or eat or sleep. Now I can somewhat relax and I sleep a little too much. The bulk of symptoms I described are still here too, but they normally don’t happen all at once anymore. I might have digestive issues for 3 days, have intense anxiety for 1 week, have pins and needles sensation for a few hours, and sometimes they overlap. Considering how some people on here don’t have windows until several months or years after, I think I am pretty lucky in that regard.
 

About a week ago I had my first day of feeling 80% normal. I was pretty busy that day so maybe I was just distracted, but I finally felt like I got my head above water for a moment. Right now though, I’m back to being anxious and feeling cold & shaky. It’s impossible to predict when I’ll feel different and it’s very stressful. I thought it would be pointless to try logging my symptoms, but I think I might as well give it a shot now.

Escitalopram: 5mg  5/20 - 7/20, 10mg  8/20 - 1/21, (cold turkey), 5mg  6/21, 10mg  7/21, 20mg  8/21 - 11/21, 10mg  12/21 - 2/22, (cold turkey), 10mg  5/10/22  - 6/14/22, 20mg  7/15/22 - 8/24/22 (THC), 20mg  aug 25 & 26 & 29 & sep 1, 10mg 9/4/22, 5mg 9/7/22 (last dose)

Hydroxyzine:  12.5mg (as needed, discontinued)

Ativan: 4/17/23

Effexor: 3.5mg 4/19/23

Lamotrigine: 25mg 4/20/23, 12.5mg 4/22/23, 6.25mg 4/27/23

Clonidine: 0.05mg 5/15/23 - 5/18/23 (as needed)

 

Drug free for 1 year!!!

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  • Moderator Emeritus
19 hours ago, koto said:

Totally my bad! I thought they were the same drug. I was definitely on Escitalopram. 

No problem.  Thanks for the clarification.  

 

19 hours ago, koto said:

I was taking the 20mg dose daily until August 25th, after which I used 3 day intervals for 2 weeks. I didn’t know at the time but I thought taking “breaks” between doses would be the same as tapering to a lower dose.

We suggest not skipping days when tapering off psych drugs.  This created an uneven level of the drug in the bloodstream and confuses the brain, further destabilizing our nervous systems.  

 

Alcohol and other mind altering substances will also tend toworsen our symptoms.  I suggest you stay away from all this while you are recovering.  And, try to eat healthy, get enough liquids, get gentle exercise, etc and other healthy self care.  Consider adding the magnesium, and omega 3 supplements, as suggested above.  Check out the links for those.  Add one at a time.  

 

I'm happy to hear that you are improving!  This is a very good sign.  You should continue to improve, in windows and waves.   It's excellent that you can relax and sleep!  Many of us struggle with this for months, or even years. 

 

Here are some non drug ways to help with anxiety.  For me, listening to relaxing music at a low volume really helps.  

 

video: Claire Weekes on Anxiety and Panic

 

Emotional Spirals

 

Acknowledge Accept Float

 

Music to Calm Anxiety

 

Breathing Technique for Anxiety

 

Anxiety Stuff - all kinds of stuff about anxiety attacks and things that help ...

 

 

15 hours ago, ChessieCat said:

Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes) Female voice - getselfhelp.co.uk

 

Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes) Male voice - getselfhelp.co.uk

 

 

Meditation

Please do not private message me.  Only tag me for urgent questions about tapering and reinstating - thank you.  

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 2010 - 10 mg;  started taper August 2017, recent taper info: Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, multivitamin, zinc

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, extended release vitamin C, melatonin 2 mg

 

Paxil 2002 - 2010, switched to Lexapro 2010 

Trazodone 50 mg. 2002 - 2019, fast tapered in 2019 

Xanax 0.5 mg as needed 2002 - 2019, up to 3x weekly 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just got back from the instacare because I thought I was dying. For the past few days my taste, smell, and hearing have been extremely sensitive. Like EXTREMELY. And when I inhale the air feels spicy? I’ve been basically living in my ear plugs. Then today out of nowhere my senses got super intense and I started convulsing. My bpm was 135. It was different than the panic attacks I’m used to. The initial attack subsided but I still felt weird so I went to the instacare. Currently, my tongue is numb/tingly, I have a weird taste in my mouth, my eyes sting, my face stings, it feels like hot steam is coming out of my ears, feels like my brain is shivering, my throat is dry and everything tingles and air still feels “spicy.” The doctor told me all they can do is give me ibuprofen. I declined because I’m scared of taking anything in this sensitive state (The only thing I’m on is a daily vitamin every so often). Is this anxiety? Should I see a neurologist? I see some people take vitamin b-12 for hyperesthesia but again I’m too scared to try anything that could possibly make it worse. It’s already pretty unbearable.

Escitalopram: 5mg  5/20 - 7/20, 10mg  8/20 - 1/21, (cold turkey), 5mg  6/21, 10mg  7/21, 20mg  8/21 - 11/21, 10mg  12/21 - 2/22, (cold turkey), 10mg  5/10/22  - 6/14/22, 20mg  7/15/22 - 8/24/22 (THC), 20mg  aug 25 & 26 & 29 & sep 1, 10mg 9/4/22, 5mg 9/7/22 (last dose)

Hydroxyzine:  12.5mg (as needed, discontinued)

Ativan: 4/17/23

Effexor: 3.5mg 4/19/23

Lamotrigine: 25mg 4/20/23, 12.5mg 4/22/23, 6.25mg 4/27/23

Clonidine: 0.05mg 5/15/23 - 5/18/23 (as needed)

 

Drug free for 1 year!!!

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  • Mentor

This popped up somehow, and I just wanted to fly by and say I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Sounds awful. I’m not a doctor, but trying to see a neurologist can’t hurt. Good to figure out what’s going on. Have you had covid in the past, by chance? People are reporting sensory changes like what you’re describing.

Pronouns: they/them/theirs 

Started on Prozac in early 2000s to treat cPTSD, been on various cocktails ever since.

2002-2004, 2017-2022: Buspar, tapered down to 0

2016-present: 100mg Seroquel for sleep -> May 2023: 90mg -> June 2023: 81mg -> September 2023: 72mg -> switched to brand name, much too strong, down to 60mg -> October 2023: 54mg -> November 2023: 50mg -> January 2024: 45mg -> April 2024: 40.5mg

2016-Present: 100mg Wellbutrin SR -> January 2023: 75mg IR (37.5mg 2x a day) -> February 2023 (33.75mg 2x a day) -> July 2023 (30.37mg 2x a day) -> August 2023: 27.33mg 2x a day 

2018-present: 25mg Pristiq

2015-present: 600mg Gabapentin (200mg 3x a day) -> December 2022: 300mg Gabapentin (100mg 3x a day) per GP's recommendation after side effects -> March 2023: 90mg 3x a day (switched to liquid suspension) -> April 2023: 81mg 3x a day -> September 2023: bad generic, switched back to homemade liquid; too strong after bad generic, down to 70mg 3x a day, still bad. Adjusted slowly till at 60mg 3x a day, much better. Long hold till -> December 2023: 54mg, still feels too high after November Seroquel switch from brand name to generic, doc recommended 50mg which feels better -> January 2024: When Wellbutrin went down, Gabapentin started putting me to sleep, went down to 45mg, then 41mg to stay awake, so far so good -> February 2024: 36mg, still too high, 34mg -> March 2024: 31mg, STILL too high, 30mg

Supplements: Multivitamin w/magnesium, probiotics, digestive enzymes, anti-viral nitric oxide nose spray as needed

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  • Moderator Emeritus

You've had a lot of major upsets to your system - a fast taper off Lexapro, which is enough to cause very significant disruption to your nervous system, then COVID and the THC edible on top of that.  I'm willing to bet that your extreme sensitivity is caused by your destabilized nervous system, which is probably very hypersensitive at this time.  The best way to deal with this, is to try not to freak out about it. I would not take vitamin B12, as this tends to be activating, and in WD our nervous systems need calming, not activation.  This symptom is not uncommon during withdrawal.  Lexapro is a very powerful drug, and it can take many months to recover from a fast and sudden taper such as yours.  

 

And, it is important to try to relax about our withdrawal symptoms.  Please read this next link, I think it could really help you if you apply these principles: 

 

Steps for Managing WD Symptoms

 

Have you tried the magnesium, or omega-3?  These are calming supplements that help many people in WD.  Just try one at a time to see how if affects you, and start with a low amount.  

 

Magnesium

Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

Have you tried any of the non drug techniques for anxiety that I linked to above?   

 

Here is our topic on hyperesthesia, or sensitive senses.  

 

Increased Sensitivity to Light, Sound, etc.

 

 

 

Please do not private message me.  Only tag me for urgent questions about tapering and reinstating - thank you.  

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 2010 - 10 mg;  started taper August 2017, recent taper info: Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, multivitamin, zinc

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, extended release vitamin C, melatonin 2 mg

 

Paxil 2002 - 2010, switched to Lexapro 2010 

Trazodone 50 mg. 2002 - 2019, fast tapered in 2019 

Xanax 0.5 mg as needed 2002 - 2019, up to 3x weekly 

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  • 1 year later...
  • Moderator
Posted (edited)

Because you're feeling better, I added our cheerful "here comes the sun" symbol to the title of your Intro topic, to show you're recovering.

 

@koto has written a success story, which you can read about here:

 

 

This thread will now be locked to further comment, and any conversations continued over at the success story.

Edited by Erimus

Active Monday-Friday UK time

 

Taper calculator spreadsheet

 

MEDICATION:

1) Sertraline:

50mg - Oct 2020, 100mg - Dec 2020, 50mg - April 2021, 75mg - May 2021, 50mg - Sep 2021, 55mg - 23 Feb 2024, 60mg - 20 March 2024, Start tapering - 24 April 2024

Current dose: 55.09mg  (1 July 2024)

2) Mirtazapine:

15mg - Nov 2020

SUPPLEMENTS:

Fish oils, Magnesium, Vitamin C

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