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Woodchuck19: Citalopram and Vestibular Migraines


woodchuck19

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Hi all, I wanted to tell my story and maybe get some advice/reassurance from folks who may have gone through something similar.

 

I took citalopram daily 10mg for around 5 years, and began a gradual taper in 2022. I took 5mg for around a year, then decreased to 2.5mg last fall.

 

During the winter I started having frequent dizzy spells that would last a day or so and my equilibrium was generally really fragile.

 

I had just taken a round of antibiotics for a sinus infection so I attributed it to that and went down a long road of elimination diet attempts thinking it was related to my gut.

 

Given that I was completely uninformed about SSRI withdrawal, I thought the 2.5mg I was taking of the citalopram could be causing the problem. I then stopped taking it all together. Truly a dumb thought process, but I was desperate and just trying anything to see what would stick.

 

The dizziness then later progressed into a constant feeling of disequilibrium, like I was on a boat or walking on marshmallows. The dizziness seemed to get worse with certain foods (soy, pizza and chocolate were some definite triggers).

 

I saw every doctor I could, had MRIs of my head and neck, and began seeing a physical therapist 2 months ago. A neuro ENT settled on thinking that I had vestibular migraines and put me on a migraine diet which seems to help a bit but doesn’t fix the pain entirely.

 

The physical therapist prescribed doing cardio as often as I possibly could and helped me work out the tension I had in my neck. That has seemed to get a hold on the dizziness, and now I’m left with constant fullness, pain and discomfort around my ears that gets worse with stress and anxiety.

 

Hindsight is telling me this was all caused by tapering off the citalopram too fast, but it’s been 6 months since I’ve stopped so I’m afraid it’s too late to reinstate a very low dose of it to see if it would help.

 

A part of me is also not wanting to touch the medication again, since stopping put me through 5 months of being dizzy.

 

I’m a little at a loss for what to do. It sounds like it could be anyone’s guess how long I’ll have this ear pain, but I’m afraid to get back on the meds. I’m also really sick of eating a restricted diet and living in fear of trigger foods, so if I could fix my food triggers with the medicine it would probably be worth going back on it.

 

Would really appreciate some guidance or thoughts. Thanks in advance 🙏🏼

 

 

 

 

2017 - 2022 Citalopram 10mg

Feb 2022 - August 2023 Citalopram 5mg

August 2023 - January 2024 Citalopram 2.5mg

January 2024 - Present Citalopram 0mg

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  • Erimus changed the title to Woodchuck19: Citalopram and Vestibular Migraines
  • Moderator Emeritus
Posted (edited)

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 willing to bet that your current symptoms are caused by jumping off the citalopram 2.5 mg in January.  Let me give you some basic information about these drugs, how they affect our brains, and recovery from it, then some specific ideas for you.  

 

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

 

 

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

 

Please avoid alcohol and mind altering substances completely, as this will tend to further destabilize your nervous system, and prolong/worsen your withdrawal. 

 

15 hours ago, woodchuck19 said:

A part of me is also not wanting to touch the medication again, since stopping put me through 5 months of being dizzy.

So this suggests that you have some some improvements in dizziness since January.  Am I correct?  

 

Here are some simple techniques that can help you with anxiety: 

 

video: Claire Weekes: Managing Anxiety

 

 

video: Claire Weekes on Anxiety and Panic

 

Claire Weekes - Hope and Help for you Nerves Audiobook  

 

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 ...

 

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

 

We find that people that jump on and off and back on meds (aside from a cautious small temporary reinstatement) almost always tend to get worse, not better, so be super cautious about going back on psych meds in the future.  

 

It takes the nervous system an extremely long time to recover from these drugs, because it is incredibly complex.  I believe that in your situation, the best thing to do is lots of natural self care, and do whatever you can to calm and soothe yourself.   Time and patience are the keys.  Our brains and bodies have incredible healing abilities, but in the case of a nervous system destabilized by withdrawal, this can take many months.  


 

Edited by getofflex

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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Thanks so much for your reply @getofflex, I have had some improvements in dizziness since january. After around 3 weeks of physical therapy and very frequent cardio exercise, in mid May, my dizziness went away and would only surface if I consumed chocolate or caffeine. Since then I've had discomfort and fullness in my ears almost every day though. I'm also still avoiding many foods out of fear that they may bring the dizziness back, since they triggered the dizziness initially (dairy, gluten, soy, eggs).

So my understanding of your comment is that I should not attempt to reinstate any dose of the Citalopram at this stage, correct? Do you think that I should also continue strictly avoiding foods that were triggers of the dizziness? Having such a restricted diet has been one of the most challenging parts of this experience.

Anyway, thank you again for your input. I will review all the learning materials you provided as soon as I can!

2017 - 2022 Citalopram 10mg

Feb 2022 - August 2023 Citalopram 5mg

August 2023 - January 2024 Citalopram 2.5mg

January 2024 - Present Citalopram 0mg

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  • Moderator Emeritus
On 6/25/2024 at 11:15 AM, woodchuck19 said:

So my understanding of your comment is that I should not attempt to reinstate any dose of the Citalopram at this stage, correct?

Yes, you are correct.  In comparison to others on this forum, your withdrawal is very mild.  Many of us have severe crippling anxiety, insomnia, dark thoughts, depression, etc..

 

On 6/25/2024 at 11:15 AM, woodchuck19 said:

Do you think that I should also continue strictly avoiding foods that were triggers of the dizziness? Having such a restricted diet has been one of the most challenging parts of this experience.

If it were me, I would avoid foods that are triggers.  I still have foods that are triggers, which I avoid.  It's just not worth it for me. This will not be forever.  Eventually, you should become less sensitive to these trigger foods. 

 

Good luck, and keep us posted on 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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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi @getofflex, I’m feeling a strong temptation to try reinstating the citalopram. I’ve been doing some thinking and I realize that I did have a lot of similar symptoms (constant sinus pressure) before I was on the medication, which at the time I just attributed to chronic sinusitis but in retrospect I think was migraine and I didn’t know it. After I started the meds I had a few years where the sinus pressure wasn’t a constant issue.

 

So a part of me is wondering if I just kind of cured my migraines with the meds and now they’re back since I’m off of them.

 

I’m worried I took away the only thing that was helping me. Granted I think my current symptoms and more intense than what I was feeling before I started the meds, so I assume the withdrawal definitely amped things up a notch.

 

I’m so conflicted, I really wonder if going back on it could make me feel comfortable in my own body and able to eat a normal diet again. The constant pressure in my head and ears has really been driving me nuts lately. I’m not really watching my diet right now though and have been consuming migraine trigger foods without much concern, which I’m sure isn’t helping.

 

I wish a genie could just appear and tell me the exact path forward I should take. Really could use some guidance.

2017 - 2022 Citalopram 10mg

Feb 2022 - August 2023 Citalopram 5mg

August 2023 - January 2024 Citalopram 2.5mg

January 2024 - Present Citalopram 0mg

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  • Moderator Emeritus

As we are a forum for getting off psychiatric drugs, we do not make recommendations about going back on them.  I'm not a health care professional, so cannot advise you about sinus and migraine issues.  

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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