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LostRunner: took Citalopram for 7 days - feel terrible 7 weeks later

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LostRunner

Hello, 

 

I just wanted to share my Citalopram story as I'm feeling terrible at the moment and just feel like I've completely ruined my body. I don't know if anyone else out there has advice or experienced something similar? 

 

I was prescribed Citalopram in February this year by my GP after experiencing a lot of anxiety. I took 10mg for 4 days but after contacting my GP when I was experiencing a lot of side effects, she upped my dose to 20mg and said it was normal to feel worse before I felt better. By this stage I was feeling pretty manic but for some reason I did what the doctor advised and upped my dose to 20mg as I thought my feelings were because I was so anxious. In hindsight I know now that it was the drug that was actually making me feel manic but I just wasn't aware of that at the time - I bought it was all me. I ended up taking Citalopram for just 7 days in the end and only stopped after a particularly bad night where I was experiencing burning all over my body and brain zaps - I knew I couldn't take it anymore. The Dr didn't want me to stop but I couldn't face taking another pill. Two days before I stopped taking it I started to experience a tremor in my arms but I thought it would wear off when I stopped the drug.

 

Fast forward to around the 20th March having been Citalopram free for a month I began experiencing terrible, debilitating symptoms. My back & stomach is constantly pulsing - I have no idea what it is, I have pins and needles in my legs and tingling in my feet. The floor feels like it is moving when I walk and I feel very unsteady and dizzy. I feel completely detached from everything and everyone and don't even really recognise myself. Im just not interested in the things I used to be and everything is so much effort. I have major brain fog. I sleep very poorly and wake up after a couple of hours, body pulsing and unable to get to sleep. My neck tingles and I have a slight tremor in my neck/head. I never feel still or relaxed and I'm constantly on edge. My head throbs. My teeth hurt and my jaw is tight. My neck feels tight & my stomach is inflamed. Nothing I take seems to help with my symptoms. 

 

I have contacted my GP for help but they have said that it all sounds like anxiety, and have prescribed me propranolol and diazepam. They said that it is very unlikely that Citalopram has caused this but I really think it has. I've never felt like this in my life.  I am finding it all so very difficult at the moment. I feel like a complete zombie and the physical symptoms are so hard to deal with. I used to be so active and now walking feels like a battle. Physically and mentally I feel completely ruined. I am so ashamed that I have done this to myself and cannot see a way out. Is there anyone out there who has experienced similar or who can offer a bit of hope? Does this get better? 

 

 

History:

11th - 17th February 2020 - Citalopram (3 days 10 mg & 4 days 20mg)

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, LostRunner.

 

You had an adverse reaction to Citalopram. We see this quite often.  Just this morning we had another new member who had an adverse reaction to Citalopram.  You were very wise to stop when you did.  Brassmonkey, one of our moderators, has written the following explanation of what you are experiencing:

 

But I only took it for a Week

 

I think that some of the most unfortunate members we have are the ones who only took the drug for a short time and had an Adverse Reaction. Over the years I’ve seen a good number of members join who have taken their drugs for one day to a week and then stopped.  Yet they are suffering very acute symptoms.  This is an Adverse Reaction, acute symptoms that hit immediately and hard.  Some people’s chemical makeup just isn’t compatible with psych drugs and their body immediately tries to reject them, but in doing so throws itself into chaos.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The good news is that you will recover and there will be no permanent damage.  Unfortunately, there is no way to know how long it will take.  As you've probably guessed by now, doctors have very little understanding of psychiatric drugs or the damage they can cause and attribute negative effects of these drugs to an "underlying condition," as your doctor did.

 

The symptoms of an adverse reaction are very similar to withdrawal symptoms, and those that you describe are very typical.  

 

What is withdrawal syndrome.

 

Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.

 

 

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 

 

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 

 

Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.

 

This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 
 

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LostRunner

Thank you so much for your reply Gridley. I'm full of regret at the moment, I can't help but hate myself for taking them for as long as I did. I know this isn't helpful. I was caught up with the idea that I would feel better if I took the meds a bit longer. I think I'd be in much better shape if I'd stopped sooner. I feel physically and mentally broken. 

 

At the moment recovery doesn't seem possible at all. I can't walk very far without feeling very off balance/dizzy and the spasm in my stomach/ back are just so intense. The Dr just doesn't get it. Is it just a case of waiting for it to get better? I'm struggling to be positive at the moment. 

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Rozon1

Hey lost. I’ve done a lot of researching here on the forums. Along my research I’ve found a bit of stories like you. Everyone I’ve seen in your situation went on to recover no problem. You’ll 100% get through this. It’s good you stopped when you did instead of continuing it. 
 

When I get home I’ll link you a few stories if I can go back and find them.

 

 

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Gridley
3 minutes ago, LostRunner said:

can't help but hate myself for taking them for as long as I did. I know this isn't helpful. I was caught up with the idea that I would feel better if I took the meds a bit longer. I think I'd be in much better shape if I'd stopped sooner.

We are trained to look to doctors as authority figures.  You did exactly what all of us did and what got us into the situations we're now in: trusting the doctor.  You did nothing wrong.  In fact, as I said, you were wise to stop as soon as you did.  That you did shows great courage in the face of the doctor's recommendations, especially given the bad shape you were in and the lack of information you had (except for your very reliable gut instinct).

 

8 minutes ago, LostRunner said:

I think I'd be in much better shape if I'd stopped sooner.

There's no way to know that.  Every one of us here, members and moderators, has made mistakes and more than once.  I know I did.

 

9 minutes ago, LostRunner said:

I feel physically and mentally broken

Yes, that is the norm.  But it will get better.  The first few weeks and perhaps months will be the roughest in an adverse reaction.  Then things will slowly start to improve.

 

10 minutes ago, LostRunner said:

At the moment recovery doesn't seem possible at all. I can't walk very far without feeling very off balance/dizzy and the spasm in my stomach/ back are just so intense

You are at the most acute phase.  It will get better.  Again, I wish I could give you a timeline but I can't.

 

11 minutes ago, LostRunner said:

The Dr just doesn't get it.

No, they don't get it. The believe what they're taught and what the drug reps say.

 

13 minutes ago, LostRunner said:

Is it just a case of waiting for it to get better? I'm struggling to be positive at the moment. 

Basically, yes, it is waiting.  Being positive is very important; being negative stresses your system more.  The supplements I mentioned earlier can help.  Take a look at the links within the following link to see which techniques might be helpful.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

If anxiety is one of your symptoms, the following restorative yoga pose was helpful to me.

 

10 minute Restorative Yoga for Relaxation | Up the wall

 

I know it is very frightening, but I can assure you you will recover.

 

 

 

 

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LostRunner

@Rozon1 Thank you so much for your reply, its definitely reassuring to hear that you've known of others who have recovered. I'm so worried as I never got on with Citalopram so I feel like I've basically poisoned myself for a week and my body is just all over the place now. At the moment I don't know if I'll ever be able to walk properly again - my back/stomach feels like it is spasms constantly which makes me off balance and I haven't seen anyone else who has dealt with this side effect. 

 

@Gridley Thank you for your kind response and reassurance, I just feel so stupid. I don't know what I've done to my body but it feels like every part of me is broken. I'm finding it hard to forgive myself as it seems so obvious now and if id done some more research I'd have realised that what I was experiencing wasn't the 'normal' reaction. I wasn't convinced when the Dr wanted to up my dose but stupidly I went a long with it. I will have a go at introducing the supplements. It all feels quite unbearable at the moment.

 

 

 

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keogh08

Hi @LostRunner I hope you are well.

I understand 100% how you are feeling right now, most likely very scared with little hope.

 

I also endured an adverse reaction to citalopram after taking 20mg for 6 days.

 

I experienced pretty much everything you mention along with halloucinations auditory and visual.

 

It's been almost 6 months now and I am mainly out if the worst of it. So please be reassured that although you think you will never get through this, you will 100%. 

 

Try not to be too hard on yourself, I know guilt is a strong powerful emotion and we wonder why we went on the medication in the first place. But this is just one little bump in the road. 

 

Take care and stay safe.

 

 

 

 

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LostRunner

Thank you @keogh08 its unbelievable isn't it. I hops so much that this will get better. it feels literally impossible at the moment. How long did it take for you to notice a difference?

 

It's been 8 weeks for me and I think I'm getting worse. I have spasms/weird pressure sensation 24/7 all over my spine/back and heavy pulsing all over my body - my ab pulse is so strong can feel it all the time and the movement affects me when I walk, tingling legs, weak arms and hand grip, fast heart rate, unsteady when walking, total disconnect from my environment, jaw & neck tremor. I can't relax and sleeping is difficult - I'm petrified that I've caused permanent nerve damage or something, I didn't have any of these issues before Citalopram. The back problems in particular are really getting me down, they just don't give me a break.  I've had a Brain MRI which was fine but waiting to see a neurologist - not sure how long that will take because of current corona situation. 

 

The guilt and regret is so strong! and sends me absolutely crazy. Complete disbelief that this is happening and I just can't believe I've done this to myself. 

 

 

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LostRunner

Hello, I've just been prescribed Clonazepam (0.5mg) by a neurologist for the back spasms I've bene having but I'm now very wary of taking any new medications. 

 

Does anyone have any experience of taking this? Is it a bad idea to take? Should I just try it and see if it helps? Sorry feel incapable of thinking properly at the moment, any advice would be much appreciated! 

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Gridley
2 hours ago, LostRunner said:

Clonazepam (0.5mg)

I would be wary, especially given your adverse reaction to the Citalopram.  Some people's nervous systems are too sensitive for psychiatric medications.

 

You should know that Clonazepam, like all benzos, can cause physiological dependence within two to four weeks of regular use and also with intermittent use.  Once you're dependent, you no longer get any benefit from taking the drug and are only staving off withdrawal.  

 

It's a slippery slope.  I started off taking Ativan intermittently for sleep, then more often and finally regularly.  I'm still taking it and get no benefit except to ward off withdrawal.  Once I finish my Lexapro taper, I'll be starting my Ativan taper.

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keogh08

Hi @LostRunner

 

I understand totally how you are feeling. 

It happens to many people unfortunately there are a few cases on here relating to adverse reactions. I have spoken to many people now who have recovered and as a guideline recovery seems to take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years and from what I have read that is a full recovery. 

 

 I was pretty  bad up until January then I was out of the crisis phase. In the last month the anxiety and panic, heart palpitations etc have subsided massively. The halloucinations

 

Each month I get more and more like the old me which gives me hope. 

 

Magnesium was a life changer and taken twice a day made a massive improvement in my condition. This along with a diet overhaul and cutting out the majority of processed foods has helped.

 

I am also now able to tolerate a couple of coffees in the morning where as 6 months ago I wouldn't have dreamed off it. 

 

My remaining symptoms seem to be more of a slight mental anxiety and minor depression. But no where near as bad as I was the few months after my reaction. 

 

It is true that we get better and to take the months as they come, as hard as it is you have to remain optimistic and not beat yourself up, as you will only stress yourself out more.

 

Also chamomile tea may relax you before bed along with magneisum baths.

 

Take care.

 

 

 

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LostRunner

Thank you for your reply @keogh08 I'm so glad you're getting better, it must be a massive relief. 18 months -2 years seems so long but I think if I noticed improvements in that time it would definitely be more bearable.

 

I pray for improvements but I feel worse than ever at the moment. Physically my body is not mine at the moment. I currently am convinced I've caused major damage to nerves in my spine or similar, I'm really struggling with walking normally without back spasms/movements and weird pressures all over my back. Its the most horrendous feeling. My arms are weak and my muscles have just gone. This has progressed slowly since coming off the drugs and isn't improving despite trying light exercises & stretches. Previous to the Citalopram I was very active and running 2/3 times a week. Now I'm struggling to go for walks. It has been so so depressing and I can't see a way out of any of this atm. Sorry to be so doom and gloom with my responses. It's very hard to differentiate between symptoms caused by the drugs and actual illness. I haven't seen any people posting about back issues as severe as mine which makes me worry. 

 

 

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LostRunner

@Gridley thank you for your advice, I think I'll try to stay clear for now. It's so difficult to know what to do when everything feels so awful! 

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LostRunner

is it a normal symptom to feel a throbbing sensation all over my body? Does this ever end? Just seems ridiculous all these weeks on

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Erell
1 hour ago, LostRunner said:

is it a normal symptom to feel a throbbing sensation all over my body? Does this ever end? Just seems ridiculous all these weeks on

 

Hello, 

 

yes this feeling sounds very common. And as all WD symptoms, they will imporve, but very slowly and gradually.

Hang on dear :)

 

Hav you read these topics ? They are really helpfull to understand WD

 

 

 

 

And

 

 

 

 

Take care ❤️

 

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Icip

Hi @LostRunner,

 

I took Sertraline six times (five consecutively) back in early October of last year - I thought I had ruined everything, my body, brain, and even my eyes. While I’m nowhere near recovered, I feel a million times better just coming up to my sixth week of being in ‘withdrawal’.


I still feel a huge disconnect with my emotions - they don’t really seem like my own, and my brain fog is there ever so slightly, so as with a lot of things, time is the greatest healer. You will get better.

Do you have any vision problems?

 

Read my thread if you want to see what symptoms I had/my progression in healing: 

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to link my own thread, but hopefully it can help reassure you that things will get better, if we share some of the same symptoms. I had balance problems + dizziness for the first month; but everyone heals at their own pace/schedule!

 

Take care!

 

Icip.

 

[Edit! - I had a throbbing sensation in my bum for the first two months! It’s come back once or twice for a few days, but has generally gone away].

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Lzieb

Hi @LostRunner, did you just stop taking it?  In the same boat but with Zoloft! 

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LostRunner

Hi @Erell and thanks for your reply - I really hope so. I only took Citalopram for 7 days but I was quite ill during those 7 days so I'm not sure what I've done to my body. I should have stopped around Day 3 when I visited my GP in a bit of a state but she said it was normal to feel this way and to carry on -  I listened to her stupidly which was a BIG MISTAKE. Now 8 weeks on I'm a wreck both physically and mentally, maybe I have a poor imagination but I just cant imagine being me again. Feel like I'm in a nightmare. As I didn't take it for that long surely I'm not experiencing withdrawal? But more that I've done damage to my body and my body is like WTF have you done.. I was healthy before all this. 

 

Hello @Icip, thank you for your reply. Glad to hear you're feeling much better than you did back then! It's definitely reassuring to hear people's stories. Do you mean you started feeling better 6 weeks after you stopped taking the drug? I know theres no way of knowing but to think I could be like this for years just makes me want to die. I'm definitely feeling disconnected - its such a scary feeling. I don't really recognise myself at all. Dealing with so many physical and mental symptoms all at once is just so hard! I'm struggling with balance and dizziness still too. Pretty much every part of me does not seem normal to me and I'm struggling with over analysing symptoms as well and worrying about them all the time. 

 

Hi @Lzieb Yes I did - I took Citalopram for 7 days and because it made me feel so poorly I had to just stop. I genuinely don't know what would have happened if I took anymore. I took it for more days than I should have, hence why I think I'm in such a state now. My body just did not like it! How long ago did you stop taking Zoloft? and how are you now? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lzieb

@LostRunner, 6 days for me than straight cold turkey. I'm only in day 14 of withdrawal. Not fun to be in this situation... I'm a Christian so I'm just trusting the Lord to see me through it. It's interesting that something this huge can happen so quickly. 

 

I have begun reading the success stories. They are hopeful. I imagine that we will learn a new normal for awhile and then adjust until we are better.

 

I also started CBT and joined NA...I need people around me who know what it's like to battle and be in the trenches. 

 

We will get through this. Even if I don't believe that every second that's what I'm telling myself. 

 

I will be praying for or you. Know we are literally battling together. I can't wait until we can both read our own success stories

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Icip

@LostRunner,

 

I got worse for a few weeks, stayed the same for another few, but I can feel myself getting better. Even as I was feeling worse emotionally, my depersonalisation was lifting. I implore you to just try and wait it out, eat healthily, and take each day as it comes.


Take care, and feel free to message me if you want to talk or have any questions:),

 

Icip.

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LostRunner

@Lzieb how crazy that we've both reacted like this! I wish I'd never touched them. I'm so sorry you've too found yourself in this situation - please know that I know how you're feeling and I really hope you start seeing major improvements soon. I know, the change I feel is unbelievable. 

 

You're right, the success stories are definitely good to read. Though I do compare myself and sometimes think I have different symptoms and then worry about those. Thats a good idea to start CBT, I hope it helps you. Thank you for your support, we'll get through this! Ah the thought of writing a success story is just the best thing! 

 

 

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LostRunner

Thank you @Icip thats very kind of you. I'm desperately wanting to feel better, I feel so weak at the moment and my balance and walking has been really affected. Just feel gutted. 

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Farout

I LostRunner.  I had an adverse reaction over 6 years ago.  It is without a shadow of doubt the most confusing, intense, traumatic experience of my life.

 

I did heal and so will you. 

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LostRunner

@Farout how long did it take for you to see any kind of healing? I really hope you're right. 

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LostRunner

Has anyone had experience of spinal instability after stopping anti depressants?

 

I've never had any back issues prior to taking medication and was previously very active and fit. 4 weeks after I stopped the meds I have felt a throbbing 24/7 in my spine. its not painful but its a pulsing like movement in my back which makes me feel quite unstable when I stand and walk. Now when I walk I feel a pressure on my lower back and I feel unsteady. Also legs feel tingly, heavy and weak. I've seen a physio who has said there is nothing 'mechanically' wrong with my spine and nothing relieves this sensation in terms of stretches/heat/cold. I try to go for a half hour walk every day but it just feels like my back could collapse any minute. Sometimes after walking I then have a intense pressure feeling on my lower back. Even when I am sitting the movement/throbbing is constant, there's no relief!

 

Any one else experienced anything similar? I'm really scared it's something serious and I won't be able to run again. I also have a really strong pulse in my abdomen which I feel all the time - again this only came on 4 weeks after stopping the meds.

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LostRunner

How can you be sure that an adverse reaction isn't just damage? I've been experiencing a lot of pressure on my lower back when I walk, it feels like I'm walking through water

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NoMoreLexapro

Im there with you.  Was on lexapro and lithium for 9 wks and Im in hell right now. 

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keogh08

Hi @LostRunner

 

Hope you are doing better.

 

I know you probably  think how can back issues be caused by an adverse reaction but so many of us experience the most bizarre and worrying symptoms following an adverse reaction. 

 

One helpful coping mechanism to follow is, if the symptoms did not exist before the medication it's most likely caused by the mediciation. Some people experience horrific physical symptoms whilst other experience horrific mental symptoms. Unfortunately there is no other way to heal other than giving it time. 

 

Take care

 

 

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LostRunner

Hi @NoMoreLexapro sorry to hear you're also having such a rough time. I hope you start to notice improvements soon. Are you dealing with physical and mental symptoms? I don't feel right at all unfortunately.. the physical symptoms for me are the worst. All my movement is effected and I feel weird throbbing/pulsing over my body 24/7 still. My legs and bum have become numb too and my legs and arms are so heavy. Had no problems before this. 

 

Thanks @Gridley my back problems aren't really that painful, apart from the intense pressure sometimes - its more a 24/7 pulsing rhythm in my lower back which doesn't stop. It gets stronger when I walk and affects me moving around. It's for me the most upsetting symptom, it's not getting better. 

 

Thanks @keogh08 bizarre and worrying is right! I feel like I'm in a nightmare, it doesn't make sense to me at all. I only took it for 7 days and I'm more depressed now than I've ever been. Just feel totally hopeless. I do try that approach of it will take time but I'm finding it so hard to keep that positive thought process up. The changes feel permanent and the idea of walking normally feels completely out of reach and alien. 

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keogh08

Hi @LostRunner

 

Same here I took it for 6 days, I was never depressed to begin with, like many people who take medication and face an adverse reaction.

 

You are most likely still in the crisis phase but you should hopefully start to see improvements soon. Acceptance is hard but it helps because then we dont end up stressing ourselves out more. 

 

Honestly it does get easier!

 

 

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LostRunner

@keogh08 how are you doing now? how did you get through the times when it was really bad? I think I'm just worried that improvements won't happen 

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keogh08

I'm doing much better it is almost 7 months now. 

Hope is what got me through and reading on this site how people recover. I have a young family so I had to remain hopeful to return to normal for them. 

 

The crisis phase is the worst, but as the weeks and months pass you find a new normal which you adjust to and then the healing happens. 

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LostRunner

Really glad you're doing so much better @keogh08 do you think you 7 months ago would have believed that you'd be doing as well as you are now? You're right, hope is all there is at the moment. 

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Lzieb

@keogh08, what exactly is the crisis phase? how long does it last for? i feel like I cant get through it. thx

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NoMoreLexapro

Hi LostRunner:  it's both.  Some days are more physical, some are more mental.  If physical, it is (lately- things constantly change) nausea, bladder pain, exhaustion, weird random muscle twitches and pain, tingling in my feet and hands, brain fog, anxiety, or dizziness.  If mental, it is dark thoughts, confusion, racy/anxious feelings, or inability to focus/concentrate. 

 

I can't predict what will happen and sometimes things change by the hour...

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