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Cassith: Tapering from Citalopram to Sertaline


Cassith

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Hi there,

 

I'm new here, and If I post this in the wrong forum, I do apologise.

I received a traumatic brain injury when I was young, around 1998. I have been on antidepressants ever since, and most notably, Citalopram, which seemed to work the best at the time.

 

I'm not certain exactly which year I began using citalopram, but it's definitely been over 10 years by now (Cilift +- 8 years, then Depromil (sp?) +- 2 years). Sorry I can't remember what mg I used, but it was only 1 pill.

I suffer mostly from terrible anxiety, ocd, irritability, concentration issues, PTSD, intrusive horrible thoughts (related to the PTSD), and major depression. My mind feels like a torture chamber with no escape.

In any case, I've tried to go off of citalopram several times via tapering over about 2 months (reason being a few things, I thought the meds were making my mind worse or just wasn't working), but failed every time due to the withdrawal symptoms nearly getting me thrown in jail for assault. I would literally go crazy with paranoia, anxiety, hatred and aggression, resulting in much worse depression than before.

The problem is that citalopram seems to have lost its effectiveness, I am living in a world of misery (mentally). So I saw my GP, and he told me to stop citalopram cold turkey, and start using 50mg sertaline along with Stresam.

The first day was beautiful. I had less anxiety, no depression, no PTSD. More focus. I could feel that the drugs were quite numbing, and I didn't mind. I didn't feel the mental hell I usually live in.

Then the withdrawals from citalopram began to kick in and those symptoms returned. The same old story that I experienced when trying to go off of them, just a little less because of the sertaline and stresam "numbing".

But it is getting worse every day. The symptoms were coming and going, but now they seem to be more permanent, and I'm breaking down again due to the terrible continuous intrusive depression, anger, and over-stimulation. It's been 3 weeks now.

So the situation is causing havoc on my personal life, mainly my marriage. I have been reading on Google a bit now (always a bad idea) of people who experience these withdrawals for 1-2 years. I cannot live like this, it's already causing me to inflict some self harm again. Is it possible that this is permanent?

I would appreciate advice. I know that I have to take medication for the rest of my life due to my injury, so that makes it a bit complicated. If it's going to take me 2 years of torment to shake the one drug's withdrawals, by the time it's done I will have to change medication again and start it all over again. (My doc told me that I should never go that long on 1 med again i.e. 10 years+).

So it sounds like I'm pretty buggered. Possibly permanently addicted to the first drug, now forming an addiction to the second drug. When I switch to a third drug eventually, I'll probably have 2 different withdrawals to deal with?! 

I haven't returned to the doc about the withdrawals because of circumstances. I know he said that if things get rough, that I should double the dose to 100mb sertaline. But I don't know anymore.

I still have a couple of boxes worth of citalopram, but I'm scared to take it again - then again I'm not sure what the best thing is to do. 

Thank you for any help.

1998 - Started taking anti-depressants, cannot remember which ones.
2002 - Whatever I was on wasn't working too well, started taking 20mg Cilift (citalopram SSRI).
2016 - Tried to taper off over 1 to 2 months via taking a quarter less every other week, reinstated due to unbearable withdrawals.
2016 - Switched to a different brand of citalopram - 20mg Depramil.
2017 - 25 October - Due to citalopram barely working anymore, a GP put me on 50mg sertraline (SSRI) and (?)mg etifoxine and advised to stop citalopram without tapering.
To date - Experiencing major withdrawals from citalopram since day 2 of taking sertraline.

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Hi Cassith!

 

I'm delighted you found your way here to Surviving Antidepressants (SA) - sad you had to, but if any of us are struggling with these drugs and their effects, this is a great place to learn about what's happening and how we can find a path forward.

 

For the very experienced moderators (not me, I'm just beginning) and knowledgeable members to help and support you, it would be very helpful if you could set out as clearly as you can, your drug history to date. The signature will appear under every post you make on this site and tells people at a glance what your situation is. For instance, including when you last took citalopram, when were you swapped to sertraline and stresam and the doses you take.

 

Here are some instructions on how to do it:

 

Summarize your history in a signature - ALL drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly

  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.

 

Many of us here have 'failed taper' experiences under our belt - the effects of withdrawal can be horrible and what you describe is sadly pretty normal when it comes to the effects of a rapid taper of an SSRI. At SA we recommend a slow taper of a drop of 10% of your previous dose, then hold at that dose for a month before the next drop.

 

You're right, a slow, safe taper can take a while, but you're not living in severe withdrawal while you do it this way, so you'll see from other people's stories that it just becomes part of their daily routine. You can read about this tapering method here:

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage

 

What is withdrawal syndrome

 

The windows and waves pattern of stabilisation

 

Like all of us when we first arrive here, we feel afraid and a bit hopeless, but the calmer you can stay and the more you can learn about what's going on, the better you will be able to cope (I do know it's hard! - but you can do it  - there are many great journals where people with horrifying withdrawal have gradually and beautifully recovered). This is a great discussion of non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

 

You can use this thread as a journal to ask any questions you may have and people will come and support and help you here. Feel free to read other people's experiences as well, it really helps to understand what's happening.

 

See you soon xxxmollyn

 

 

Drug history

  • 20mg paxil in 2001 - 4 months use  
  • 20mg paxil in 2003 - 2 months use 
  • 20mg paxil in 2008 - 8 years continuous

Withdrawal history:

  • March 2014 - disastrous alternate day taper
  • Jan 2015 - 15mg to 10mg. Disaster
  • Sept 2015 -  10mg to 5mg. Disaster. Reinstated to 6mg. Relief
  • Oct 2015 - started slow 10% taper 
  • Oct 2016 - at 4mg- stop taking paxil (not recommended)

 

I'm not a medical professional. Seek advice from a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Cassith: Tapering from Citalopram to Sertaline

Welcome to SA 

 

I too take celexa over 10 years and if you have any questions or need support iam here for you! Ali 

10 years citalopram 30mg- tapered down in December 15/2015- Jan 15/2016 to 20mg for two weeks, ten for one week and five for another week, then stopped, less then two weeks later, sheer hell broke lose with debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

 

Update-- reinstated 5mg of celexa on feb 5-- within hours noticed immediate difference in WD symptoms-- Holding holding and more holding.

 

Updose- March 23/16 too 10mg- relieved the harsher head symptoms- current symptoms headaches, dizzy, numbness and tingling in my head.

 

Benzos- 2015-Ativan on and off for 6 months 2mg- switched to clonazepam nov 2015- 2mg till Jan 2016 Zopiclone 7.5mg nov-dec 2015- was tapered off over 4weeks- Currently in protracted withdrawal. ????????????????????????????????

 

Update- ended up in the hospital April 18/16 major suicidal ( never had that before) was admitted/ been there ever since, put me back to full dose celexa 30mg no drugs added, IAM FINALLY STABLE AFTER 3 months of tortuous hell. Got a great physiatrist that new all about WD, he will help me taper properly in a couple of months at 5% deductions holding 8 weeks. I never want to relive that hell again.

 

Udate- stable and holding, doing things slowly is key.

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Hi,

Thank you so much for the responses, I'm definitely going to invest some time today in reading those articles. I also made a signature as suggested with an outline of what I've been taking. I decided that I'm going to try a double dose of sertraline today (100mg) - along with a single dose of etifoxine (need to confirm how much I'm taking), to see how it goes - since the doc recommended it.

I'm fearful that I'm walking into another addiction here, and that I will never be able to shake the withdrawals of citalopram. I'm scared that I'm going to be irrationally anxious, angry and paranoid like this now for the rest of my life unless I take citalopram again. That I will never be better again, you know? The kicker is that I need to take medication due to my condition. So I feel cornered and scared.

Anxious about other little things too, is it healthy to take this much medication every day? Won't it like deteriorate my organs and cause an early death? Sorry for being morbid. 

1998 - Started taking anti-depressants, cannot remember which ones.
2002 - Whatever I was on wasn't working too well, started taking 20mg Cilift (citalopram SSRI).
2016 - Tried to taper off over 1 to 2 months via taking a quarter less every other week, reinstated due to unbearable withdrawals.
2016 - Switched to a different brand of citalopram - 20mg Depramil.
2017 - 25 October - Due to citalopram barely working anymore, a GP put me on 50mg sertraline (SSRI) and (?)mg etifoxine and advised to stop citalopram without tapering.
To date - Experiencing major withdrawals from citalopram since day 2 of taking sertraline.

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