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Barbrady1

Barbrady1: almost 6 weeks since discontinuing citalopram

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Barbrady1

After close to 18 months on Citalopram, I decided to wean off the medication in August as I ascribed a feeling of mental numbness to the drug.

 

The first week off I felt fine. Weeks 2-4 were hellish as I experienced strange tingling sensations, insomnia, depersonalisation and extreme periods of agitation. However, after close to six weeks off the drug, I still don’t feel like myself. I’m apathetic. My concentration is non-existent despite taking medication for ADHD. My brain is extremely foggy, and I don’t feel connnected to myself or those around me.

 

Whilst I didn’t quite adhere to my discontinuation plan and admittedly weaned off Citalopram far too quickly, I didn’t expect to feel so utterly lost in myself after almost six weeks off the med.

 

My doctor is in the process of conferring with a psychologist with regards to taking a different medication for anxiety but I’m reluctant to go back on an SSRI.

 

Unfortunately I don’t know if I’m still struggling with SSRI withdrawal syndrome or if it’s a resurfacing of depression and/or a high level of anxiety.

 

I’d be interested to know if anyone else has experienced similar difficulties after discontinuing an anti-depressant and what helped you in your respective recoveries.

 

Thanks.

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Barbrady1

Post moved from: derealization-or-depersonalization-dr-and-dp

 

It’s extremely disconcerting to read that many experiences such perceptual abnormalities for YEARS after stopping an AD.

 

It’s been just over a month for me but I don’t know if I can tolerate it for much longer.

 

I feel as if I’m in a conscious coma.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
Added note

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ChessieCat

Hi Barbrady and welcome to SA,

 

This site exists because the medical profession don't understand about withdrawal symptoms and tapering from psychiatric drugs.  What you experiencing sounds like typical withdrawal symptoms which we see here.  Please see this list:  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist

 

To help you understand what reducing the dose of a drug can cause I will tell you about my personal experience:   I reduced my Pristiq from 100mg to 50mg, experienced extreme cog fog where even walking took all of my concentration.  At the end of 3 weeks I was unable to type.  I've been a typist for 40+ years so I knew that something was wrong and I had a benchmark.  Thankfully I had joined SA a few days before this happened and they had suggested that I take extra Pristiq.  When this happened I took extra and about 4 hours later I was able to type again and my cog fog was clearing.

 

The only known way to reduce withdrawal symptoms is to reinstatement a small amount of the drug you were taking.  Please do not take the same dose that you last took.  Your brain will have made some adaption during the 6 weeks you have been off and taking that dose will be too much for your brain.  It can also cause additional problems if you take too much.  It is better to take a small amount and if needed increase by a small amount than to take too much.  We can suggest a dose once we have additional information.  Please carefully read Post #1 of this topic:  About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

16 hours ago, Barbrady1 said:

My doctor is in the process of conferring with a psychologist with regards to taking a different medication for anxiety but I’m reluctant to go back on an SSRI.

 

Going onto a different drug may not help with the withdrawal symptoms of the drug you stopped.  Adding a different drug may cause problems, eg withdrawal from the old drug, start up, side effects, adverse effects from the new drug.  It won't be possibly to work out what is causing any issues.

 

16 hours ago, Barbrady1 said:

Unfortunately I don’t know if I’m still struggling with SSRI withdrawal syndrome or if it’s a resurfacing of depression and/or a high level of anxiety.

 

Increased anxiety is a withdrawal symptom.  Even following SA's tapering protocol whenever I make a dose reduction my anxiety increases.

 

Also see:

 

Is it withdrawal or relapse?  Or something else?


How do I know it's withdrawal and not relapse?

 

To help us out please create your drug signature.  Keep it simple - no symptoms or diagnoses just:

  • details for last 2 years - dates, ALL drugs, doses
  • summary for older than 2 years - just years and ALL drugs

Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature

 

Here are some additional helpful links:

 

Tips for tapering off Celexa (citalopram) This topic explains how to get a small dose.  Once we know your drug history we can suggest a dose to try.

 

Brain Remodelling


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?


What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

This is your own introduction topic where you can ask questions and journal your progress.

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Barbrady1

Thank you for your thoughtful reply!

 

I’ve updated my signature now, thanks.

 

With regards to the reinstatement of the same drug, I was going to enquire about trialling a low dose of Escitalopram. It’s said to be a new and improved version of Citalopram.

 

 

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ChessieCat

Escitalopram is about twice as strong as citalopram.  If it was me I'd be sticking to the citalopram.  Citalopram can easily be made into a liquid using tablets dissolved in water. 

 

We have members here who are having difficulties getting off Lexapro (escitalopram).

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Barbrady1

Yes, I heard from my GP that 10mg is supposedly equivalent to 20mg of Citalopram.

 

And unless I’m mistaken, it’s less likely to cause side effects such as erectile dysfunction.

 

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ChessieCat
31 minutes ago, Barbrady1 said:

erectile dysfunction

 

Is this a side effect you had whilst taking citalopram?

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Barbrady1
3 minutes ago, ChessieCat said:

 

Is this a side effect you had whilst taking citalopram?

Yes. However, it was counteracted for a while by the methylphenidate I take for ADHD. 

 

Unfortunately I have been experiencing difficulties in this regard for the past several months. I’m not even sure of my own sexuality anymore.

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ChessieCat

Please add Ritalin (methylphenidate) to your drug signature.  We need to know all your drugs.

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Barbrady1

It’s been updated now, thanks.

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Altostrata

Welcome Barbrady.

 

On 10/6/2018 at 3:07 AM, Barbrady1 said:

My doctor is in the process of conferring with a psychologist with regards to taking a different medication for anxiety but I’m reluctant to go back on an SSRI. 

 

What do you mean by "anxiety"?

 

Waves of "depression," "anxiety," and even panic are common in withdrawal syndrome. Almost always, doctors and patients alike will misdiagnosis these withdrawal reactions as relapse or emergence of psychiatric symptoms.

 

Lexapro is not an improvement on Celexa, it's a slightly different, stronger version. It has the same side effects. If you felt "mental numbness" and sexual dysfunction on Celexa, you are likely to experience them on Lexapro as well -- and any other SSRI, too. "Mental numbness" and sexual dysfunction are very common side effects of antidepressants.

 

You've been taking an amphetamine analog, Ritalin, for side effects of Celexa. Are you still taking Ritalin? What times of day do you take it, at what dosages?

 

After your nervous system becomes accustomed to a drug such as Celexa, it can take a long time, maybe months, to recover from the emotional anesthesia. It also sounds like you have withdrawal symptoms. Have they been getting worse or better over the last 6 weeks? How's your sleep?

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Barbrady1
26 minutes ago, Altostrata said:

Welcome Barbrady.

 

 

What do you mean by "anxiety"?

 

Waves of "depression," "anxiety," and even panic are common in withdrawal syndrome. Almost always, doctors and patients alike will misdiagnosis these withdrawal reactions as relapse or emergence of psychiatric symptoms.

 

Lexapro is not an improvement on Celexa, it's a slightly different, stronger version. It has the same side effects. If you felt "mental numbness" and sexual dysfunction on Celexa, you are likely to experience them on Lexapro as well -- and any other SSRI, too. "Mental numbness" and sexual dysfunction are very common side effects of antidepressants.

 

You've been taking an amphetamine analog, Ritalin, for side effects of Celexa. Are you still taking Ritalin? What times of day do you take it, at what dosages?

 

After your nervous system becomes accustomed to a drug such as Celexa, it can take a long time, maybe months, to recover from the emotional anesthesia. It also sounds like you have withdrawal symptoms. Have they been getting worse or better over the last 6 weeks? How's your sleep?

I’m not sure what’s going on precisely but I read somewhere that feelings of depersonalision/dissociation/derealisation are manifestations of anxiety.

 

Unfortunately it’s difficult to say if the emotional blunting is from the Citalopram, Ritalin or a combination of the two.

 

I usually take 5-7.5mg of Ritalin at 8am, 12pm and 4pm. However, I’ve been having med holidays as I’m concerned that it may well be destroying my mood.

 

After about 4 weeks off the drug, I thought I was getting a bit better. But alas, what’s transpired over the past fortnight would suggest otherwise. I’m tired all the time. Mentally foggy. I become irritated easily. I feel like a stranger to myself and those close to me. I derive zero pleasure from anything, and I’m seriously considering quitting my monotonous part-time job.

 

Thus, either the reinstatement of Citalopram or trying another SSRI seem like my best options at the moment.

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Altostrata
36 minutes ago, Barbrady1 said:

I’m not sure what’s going on precisely but I read somewhere that feelings of depersonalision/dissociation/derealisation are manifestations of anxiety.

 

Is this ^ what you mean by anxiety?

 

You're taking Ritaliln 3 times a day? Why? Why do you vary the dosage? Please read up on Ritalin side effects on drugs.com

 

Do you think your dislike for your job might be affecting your mood?

 

How have your symptoms gotten worse over the last 6 weeks? How's your sleep? Do your symptoms follow any daily pattern?  Please keep daily notes on paper about your symptoms, when you take your drugs, and their dosages. Use a simple list format with time of day on the left and notation (symptom, drug and dosage) on the right.

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Barbrady1

I take Ritalin for ADHD. It’s taken three times a day as it’s supposed to last for about four hours.

 

I’ve just finishing doing some counselling, and my therapist concluded that my job is a large reason behind my apathy and depression-like symptoms. I only work in a crappy retail role on a part-time basis but it’s extremely stressful as someone on the autism spectrum.

 

I wouldn’t necessarily say my withdrawal symptoms have worsened but my energy levels are probably lower.

 

My sleep is usually fine (at least in terms of how many hours I’m in bed for) but I am mentally and physically drained for much of the day.

 

It’s a good idea to keep daily notes on my current difficulties. Thanks!

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Altostrata
2 minutes ago, Barbrady1 said:

I’ve just finishing doing some counselling, and my therapist concluded that my job is a large reason behind my apathy and depression-like symptoms. I only work in a crappy retail role on a part-time basis but it’s extremely stressful as someone on the autism spectrum.

 

This seems to be a likely source of your poor energy levels, too, doesn't it? 

 

If you're sleeping okay and don't actually have any waves of symptoms, my guess is your depersonalision/dissociation/derealisation is post-acute withdrawal syndrome and you need to help your nervous system recover from the effects of the drugs.

 

When you have a history of going on and off psychiatric drugs, your nervous system can be sensitized to all drugs. If I were you, I'd be very cautious about taking anything, especially at "normal" dosages. We don't advise people about new drugs to take here. (It seems to me that taking Ritalin several times a day is enough drugs.)

 

It does not sound like you have withdrawal-related anxiety, it sounds like drug-related emotional anesthesia, which can be very distressing. Recovery is very slow and gradual. In the meantime, you need to "fake it until you make it": Don't expect feelings of elation, just enjoy to the extent that you can enjoy, and keep busy. Finding a new type of employment would be a good project for you.

 

Being on the autism spectrum can be difficult, you might benefit from joining a group of others on the spectrum or an online community for this, such as https://wrongplanet.net/

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Barbrady1

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

 

I have been a member on WP for over two years now. :)

 

However, I don’t know if I can risk enduring my current difficulties for much longer. I want to quit my job, yet I have no motivation to seek new employment opportunities.

 

To be honest, I think I am clinically depressed. Whilst no plan has been devised thus far, suicide is very much on my mind at the moment.

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ChessieCat

We encourage members who are feeling suicidal to local support.  Please see this topic:

 

 

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Barbrady1

Small update:

 

I’ve been put on a small dose of zopiclone for sleeping difficulties (it’s only going to be for 10-14 days) and 25mg of pregablin for anxiety.

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Barbrady1

Hmmm.

 

It’s now been well over two months since I stopped taking Citalopram but things still aren’t quite right.

 

My stress levels have dropped a bit as I resigned from my job about three weeks ago. However, I still feel disconnected from my own emotions most of the time, and it’s incredibly difficult to motivate myself to do anything.

 

It’s difficult to discern if I’m still struggling with SSRI discontinuation syndrome or if it’s a recurrence of depression.

 

I don’t strictly feel down as such but my energy levels are low (perhaps a side effect of Pregabalin but I should have adjusted by now), and I keep disengaging from activities and during discussions with others.

 

My ADHD medication helps with focus a little but generally I am very spacy and lethargic.

 

My doctor said that withdrawal symptoms roughly last for a week per month the person was on the antidepressant.

 

Thus, I should expect difficulties to continue for about eight more weeks. :(  It’s the identity crisis/dissociative feelings that are most distressing.

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Barbrady1

It’s now been 3 and a half months since I withdrew from Citalopram yet I still don’t feel quite like myself.

 

I don’t know if I’m experiencing burnout from masquerading as a neurotypical for the past three years (I’m autistic) but I always feel tired and struggle to stay engaged on one activity for more than about 10 minutes.

 

 

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Gridley
On 11/7/2018 at 11:58 AM, Barbrady1 said:

 

My doctor said that withdrawal symptoms roughly last for a week per month the person was on the antidepressant.

   

The withdrawal time doesn't necessarily correlate with the time you were on the drug.  These drugs alter the architecture of the brain, and the time necessary to heal the brain and return to homeostasis is, unfortunately, impossible to predict.  
 

  

How Long Is Withdrawal Going to Take? 

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Barbrady1

After taking Citalopram for approximately 18 months, I’m now approaching the 4 month stage since discontinuation.

 

Whilst I am beginning to feel a bit more like myself, unfortunately I find that my executive functions are rather impaired and my ability to focus is non-existent. Moreover, my brain always seems somewhat foggy, and it can be rather difficult to access my thoughts.

 

I do take methylphenidate for ADHD but it’s not been terribly effective ever since I decided to come off Citalopram. 

 

Are issues with attention and executive functions a common symptom of SSRI withdrawal?

 

I’d be interested to know if anyone else has experienced similar difficulties after stopping an anti-depressant.

 

Thanks.

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ChessieCat
4 hours ago, Barbrady1 said:

my executive functions are rather impaired and my ability to focus is non-existent. Moreover, my brain always seems somewhat foggy, and it can be rather difficult to access my thoughts.

 

This is a very common withdrawal symptom.

 

brain-fog-blank-mind-comprehension-cognitive-and-memory-problems

 

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