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ChasingRainbows: adverse reaction to 1 dose of Celexa / citalopram hydrobromide

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I was prescribed citalopram hydrobromide tablets at 20mg 2 weeks ago. After taking one dose I was vomiting within hours. Within one hour, the tablet started to work and I felt emotionally numb. This effect got stronger as the day wore on and I decided the next day not to take another one.


After the missed dose I experienced a plethora of symptoms such as depersonalisation, dereliasation, insomnia, strange behaviour, tingling in my hips and legs, frightening nightmares, a 'changed reality' and strange thoughts among other symptoms. Over the next week the symptoms became so intense and frightening that I thought I would at some point eventually end up in a psychiatric ward. I thought my life was over. The side effects over the second week improved in intensity and I have windows where my perception of reality is markedly improved. I have, however developed tinnitus over the last few days and there was a resurgence in abnormal dreams last night along with some abnormal thinking.


Overall, things seem to be improving a little (markedly better than last week) but I am still concerned. I feel drugged and my brain feels clearly warped and under the influence of psychiatric medication. The tinnitus is getting worse. I am going backwards and forwards a bit and concerned that the emergence of new symptoms is indicative of a trend. I don't know whether I should go back to my doctor and reinstate the medication in order to taper off. It has been two weeks and I am worried that the window for me to do this has closed. If I were to taper, I would not know how to do it based on how I used the medication. I would greatly appreciate any help. The issue is putting a strain on my dad who is sick himself. 

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Hi ChasingRainbows and welcome to SA,


Are you still taking them?

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Hi ChessieCat. Thank you for replying. I had to modify my post as I accidentally submitted it before finishing. 

I took a single dose of the med 2 weeks ago and stopped. All the doctors that I have seen tell me that I am not experiencing withdrawal symptoms, however almost all of the side effects occurred after I missed the second dose and various websites list my side effects as withdrawal symptoms. 

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It's really good that you only took one dose of the drug.  You have had an adverse reaction to it.  I suggest that you do not take it again and if it was me, I would not ever take another psychiatric drug.  In the future, if you are prescribed any drugs, please do your research before taking them.  That also applies to supplements (St John's Wort and the like).  As an example, bupropion, sold under the brand names Wellbutrin and Zyban among others, is a medication primarily used as an antidepressant and smoking cessation aid.  It's not something that a person wanting to quit smoking might realise.


It's unfortunate that you have had this experience, however it could have been much worse because many doctors would tell you that it is a start up effect and tell you to stay on it, and possibly increase the dose and/or add another drug.


Please see this post:  But I only took it for a Week.  You might find it helpful to read the other posts in that topic too.


It's really good that you have been noticing improvement.  Recovery isn't linear, it happens in a Windows and Waves Pattern.  It's going to take time for you to recover and you will need to be patient and remain as calm and stress free as possible and not panic.  When we panic we can make bad decisions.  I will post additional helpful tips in the next post.


I would also suggest that you don't drink alcohol and caffeine.  Please also be aware that you might find that you are sensitive to things, eg B vitamins can be activating, especially B6.  We have lots of existing topics on this site.  I like to use google and add survivingantidepressants.org to my search term.


The only supplements which SA recommends are  Magnesium and Omega-3 Fish Oil .  If you do decide to try them, only take a small amount, one at a time.  Keep it Simple, Slow and Stable


You might also find that your symptoms increase during your monthly cycle.



Please create your drug signature using the following format.   Keep it simple.  NO diagnoses or symptoms please - thank you.

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

Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature



Please keep us updated on your situation to let us know how you are.


This is your own introductions topic where your can ask questions about your own situation and journal your progress.

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When we take a psychiatric drug, we are adding chemical/s to the brain.  The brain then has to change to adapt to getting the chemical/s.  It might have to change something to do with A and then once that change has been made it affects B so another change has to be made and so on down the line.  It is a chain reaction, a domino effect.


The same thing happens when we take the drug away.  That's why it's possible to experience such a vast array of withdrawal symptoms, and they can change, and be of varying intensity.  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms




These explain it really well:


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery


On 8/31/2011 at 5:28 AM, Rhiannon said:

When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.




On 12/4/2015 at 2:41 AM, apace41 said:

Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

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We strongly encourage members to learn and use non drug coping techniques to help get through discomfort and tough times.


Understanding what is happening helps us to not get caught up with the second fear, or fear of the fear.  This happens when we experience sensations in our body and because we don't understand them we are scared of them and then start to panic.


This document has a diagram of the body explaining what happens in the body when we become anxious:





Audio FEMALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)


Audio MALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)


Non-drug techniques to cope




Dr Claire Weekes suffered from anxiety and learned and taught ways of coping.  There are videos available on YouTube.


Claire Weekes' Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System


Audio:  How to Recover from Anxiety - Dr Claire Weekes


Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)
On 4/28/2017 at 4:03 AM, brassmonkey said:


AAF: Acknowledge, Accept, Float.  It's what you have to do when nothing else works, and can be a very powerful tool in coping with anxiety.  The neuroemotional anxiety many of us feel during WD is directly caused by the drugs and their chemical reactions in the brain.  Making it so there is nothing we can do about them.  They won't respond to other drugs, relaxation techniques and the like.  They do, however, react very well to being ignored.  That's the concept behind AAF.  Acknowledge, get to know the feeling involved, explore them.  Accept, These feelings are a part of you and they aren't going anywhere fast. Float, let the feeling float off as you get on with your life as best as you can.  It's a well documented fact that the more you feed in to anxiety the worse it gets.  What starts as generalized neuroemotinal anxiety can be easily blown into a full fledged panic attack just by thinking about it.


I often liken it to an unwanted house guest.  At first you talk to them, have conversations, communicate with them.  After a while you figure out that they aren't leaving and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.  So you go on about your day, working around them until they get bored and leave.


It can take some practice, but AAF really does work.  I hope you give it a try.



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That's really good news that you have noticed improvement since stopping the drug.  You are going to need to treat yourself very gently for quite some time, even if you start feeling that you are nearly recovered.  Additional stress on the nervous system can cause the symptoms to ramp up.  Even good stress / excitement.  Overdoing exercise, not keeping a regular sleep routine and getting enough sleep.


This is information from what has been learned from other people's experiences.  The frustrating thing is that it can be a slow process and there can be bumps along the way.  And it doesn't help that we aren't able to see what is happening in the brain to know how far we have recovered, it is only by the symptoms we get that we can gauge the state of our nervous system.


Our natural inclination is to want to do something.  The thing you need to do is to give it time.  It may feel like you aren't doing anything but think of it as giving the brain the time it needs to recover, which in actual fact is doing something.


We would appreciate it if you could continue to let us know how your recovery is going.  The members' experiences become a case study and we have medical professionals who visit SA.


On 5/15/2011 at 5:22 AM, Altostrata said:



Surviving Antidepressants is a site for peer support, documentation, and education of withdrawal symptoms and withdrawal syndrome caused by psychiatric drugs, specifically antidepressants.

The participants on this site have all experienced or are experiencing difficulty in withdrawal from psychiatric medications. We offer peer support to those who are similarly suffering, drawing from our personal experiences.

(No posting on this site should be construed as medical advice. For medical advice, consult a trusted medical caregiver.)

The personal stories on this site are documentation of an iatrogenic condition -- suffering caused by medical treatment -- that is almost always ignored, misdiagnosed, or denied by the medical establishment. Given the widespread prescription of antidepressants to tens of millions of people worldwide, withdrawal syndrome probably affects hundreds of thousands if not millions -- including newborns and children.

Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome can last weeks, months, or years. It can be distressing, debilitating, or even disabling. It may be adding to an increase in what is termed disabling mental illness.

With our documentation of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, we hope to educate the medical establishment about this problem. Case studies are essential; they are evidence understood by doctors, the psychiatric industry, and government regulatory agencies.

Our hope is, eventually, antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs will be prescribed rarely, and only in cases of extremely severe mental illness after less invasive treatments have been tried.

Please join Surviving Antidepressants in its mission to support, document, and educate about psychiatric drug withdrawal syndrome.


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Hi ChasingRainbows,


How are you feeling?

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Hi ChessieCat, 


Thank you for your invaluable and informative posts. I apologise for the late reply. I have been struggling over the past few days with planning my life in response to what has occurred over the past weeks. I have been trying to take each day at a time and bear with the symptoms however, when setbacks occur I find myself frustrated and wondering what it is that I am doing wrong. The sheer number of setbacks has made me doubt my judgement even more and I find that it is destroying my self esteem. This lack of clarity is stressful and I find myself unable to make decisions without feeling frustrated and apprehensive. I worry about the consequences of my decisions and the sense of hopelessness and failure when something goes wrong. I no longer know what I can and can't do. Everything seems to affect me (though I've seen improvements in the windows and waves pattern). I feel as though I have no control most of the time. I have a metabolic dysfunction (low blood sugar) and have found myself needing to be very careful what I do due to my body's reactivity being magnified. My hypo episodes have become more frequent. I am managing this more tightly. I live in hope that my metabolism and my hormones can return to normal in time.

I have have been called to interview next week regarding a minor finance post. I do not expect that the job will be too stressful, but had read somewhere that to facilitate brain repair, one should avoid activities that require excessive thinking or concentration. Initially, concentration gave me headaches, now, not so much. I would be prepared to turn this post down if it could impact my recovery. I am very confused right now and am not sure what to do. 




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Foxlink is another member who has recently joined after having an adverse reaction.  You might find it helpful to read the posts he has made and how he is coping with how this has affected him


We have other members here who have had an adverse reaction.


This is another new member who appears to have only taken 1 tablet:  chasingrainbows-adverse-reaction-to-1-dose-of-celexa-citalopram-hydrobromide


I've just done a google search and found these, but I haven't read their Introduction topics.









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