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Rhododendron : Feel like Citalopram stunted me developmentally


Rhododendron

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Hi all. I have many thoughts about Citalopram, still struggling after being off the drug for months and thought I'd share my story.

 

I first started 20mg of Citalopram daily in 2006 at the age of 18 after a few things in my life came to a head. My mum had died in 2003 from ovarian cancer and I didn't have the opportunity to properly/securely grieve her loss as I was left living alone with my volatile, mentally unwell father who was very emotionally abusive. We were never big on emotions in my family (other than my father's daily rages) and when my GP prescribed me Citalopram I was thrilled as I didn't want to address any of the hard stuff any more, I really just wanted the magic pill each day that would blunt all the difficult, overwhelming emotions and allow me to have a break from all the trauma.

 

I've read other people's stories and some have said how taking an SSRI made them a different person and that they just want to go back to how they used to be. I find this is something I can't relate to as I didn't even know who I was in the first place when I first started taking them; my sense of self was non-existent and my entire personality was moulded around being submissive and walking on eggshells in the hope that I wouldn't trigger my father. I was socially very isolated and fearful of engaging with people. I'm 33 now and frankly I'm ashamed to say that my self-esteem is still awful and socialising is still like climbing Mount Everest. I have social anxiety and so much trauma that I've blatantly suffered from not having addressed over so many years. I took Citalopram daily throughout my entire twenties, with a far too short taper in 2015 which unsurprisingly ended up with me feeling major anxiety and subsequent depression as soon as I was fully off them. I felt like I couldn't function without this drug and it was a relief to start taking it again and feel more stable. I now understand that these were most likely neuro emotions but at the time I really thought that they indicated that there was something profoundly wrong with me and that I would never feel stable again unless I went back on Citalopram.

 

I tapered again around January of 2020 wondering if things could be different this time, though I believe that once again I did this too quickly. After a few months of being fully off the medication though I decided to stay off because although the medication does help me function, I believe it also makes me very complacent. If anything I feel like it works 'too well'. For instance, I've put up with so many awful work environments and been taken advantage of without protesting in the past, which I feel less inclined to do now I'm off Citalopram as I'm actively forced to address my emotions and attempt to learn the principles of assertiveness and boundaries. While taking Citalopram any negative emotions were blunted to the point that I didn't take action in protecting myself. I would feel irritation or sadness but I continued to direct it internally, believing that I was always the problem in any negative interaction. I had no idea about how important boudaries were and thought that being a people pleaser was a good thing, when it's really not if you don't want to be taken advantage of.

 

I can't help but feel like I didn't meet anywhere near my full potential in my twenties when it comes to self development or a career (in fact, I know I didn't) and I'm still stuck in a dead end admin job, which I absolutely loath. The one positive thing I did in my twenties was to marry a good man, though I currently feel like although I want to stay together and build a good life I don't really know what it looks like. I don't enjoy my life and I don't particularly like where we live, which is so close to where I grew up where all the traumatic memories are. We've discussed this and he is open to moving, but he's also content living here so isn't exactly proactive about making a change. I don't have friends and I know that socialising is something I should work on improving once things are more back to normal. Citalopram didn't really help in that respect since it left me feeling so tired constantly and due to my complacency while on the medication I felt perfectly okay to just drift along and let opportunities pass me by/not make an effort with people. I'm still feeling stuck with not really knowing who I truly am and I'm growing increasingly resentful of feeling like I could have figured out this stuff far sooner if I hadn't have dunked my head in the sand for 14 years or so. I find that I compare myself with other women my age who are at a completely different life stage to me and who are usually now doing the whole starting a family thing. I don't feel any desire to do the same and I highly doubt I would mentally cope with a child even if I did. Is that the real me though and could/would things be different if I had processed all these uncomfortable emotions earlier in life? I just don't know. Regardless, I feel defeated. All I ever did know through the haze is that in the future I wanted to have some measure of career success and to be a well-adjusted woman. I feel shame for the fact at 33 I'm nowhere near there yet.

 

I have been way overthinking during lockdown and I don't think this has helped my low mood at all. I guess maybe my brain is still adjusting too as it did so love Citalopram. My mood lifted literally within about three or four days when I started taking it. I now take 5-HTP and magnesium daily, plus cod liver oil. I'm making an effort to meditate daily and also do yoga a couple of times a week, both of which really help quieten my mind. I think building my emotional resilience and learning to take some risks are key to improving my situation and I just wish I had realised this years ago rather than having this drug blunt all the important emotions I should have been feeling and working through. I'm pretty angry about it to be honest and I wish that as an impressionable girl that I had been pushed more towards talking therapy rather than being left on medication for years. It was barely ever even reviewed (maybe once or twice?) and I was just left to keep filling out my prescription, thinking I was doing the right thing and that it would somehow come good in the end. 😔

 

Not sure how to end this so I guess this is it. I've stayed off Citalopram ever since April 2020 and sometimes wonder whether if that's even the right thing to do or if I should go back to taking the tiniest of doses to help my brain along a bit. Or perhaps this isn't even withdrawal now and this is just raw trauma that I have to wade through? It's so confusing. If you've read this far then thank you for reading!

Edited by Erell
Title

2006 - 2015: Citalopram 20mg

Summer 2015: Stopped taking Citalopram, quick wean and no other medication

September 2015 to roughly November 2019: Back on Citalopram 20mg due to panic and depression

January 2020 - April 2020: Weaned off Citalopram. Reduced by 5mg each month for three months, then 2.5mg on fourth and final month.

April 2020 - present: No SSRIs taken. Taking supplements - 5-HTP and Magnesium with Zinc. Also take a cod liver oil capsule daily when I remember.

March 2021: Anhedonia. Stopped taking 5-HTP in case this is exacerbating it.

 

History a bit fuzzy as I stopped taking SSRIs prior to discovering this forum (if only I'd known!)

 

 

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  • Moderator

Hello

 

And welcome on SA. 

 

This site is run entirely by volunteer Administrators and Moderators, all have been through or going through withdrawal.

There are no commercial interests or influences  involved.

 

Thank you for your signature : it will help us give you the most accurate advice we can, and allow us to see your history at a glance.

 

It sounds like you're going through withdrawal syndrome from a fast Citalopram taper ( we usually recommend our members to do very slow tapers, and to not drop more than 10% every 4 weeks).
This might help you to understand what is happening
 

how-psychiatric-drugs-remodel-your-brain

 

 

On 2/23/2021 at 6:17 PM, Rhododendron said:

I've stayed off Citalopram ever since April 2020 and sometimes wonder whether if that's even the right thing to do or if I should go back to taking the tiniest of doses to help my brain along a bit. 

 

Reinstatement of a low dose of Citalopram is a possibility, however, you've been off Citalopram since 11 months : reinstatement works best if done quickly after jumping to 0.
Plus, you're taking 5-HTP which could interact with a SSRI.

 

What are your current withdrawal symptoms ? Do they follow any pattern ?


Please don't make any change, take the time to read this thread and come back to give us your thoughts

 

about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms

 

On 2/23/2021 at 6:17 PM, Rhododendron said:

 

I'm pretty angry about it to be honest and I wish that as an impressionable girl that I had been pushed more towards talking therapy rather than being left on medication for years. It was barely ever even reviewed (maybe once or twice?) and I was just left to keep filling out my prescription, thinking I was doing the right thing and that it would somehow come good in the end. 😔

 

I understand your frustration, I've been drugged young too and spent years just filling my prescriptions.
Please know you're not the only one.
What is really important to understand is that people do heal and go on with their lives, even people who've been drugged at young age.

You might find comfort and inspiration in our Success Stories

 

success-stories-recovery-from-withdrawal

 

On 2/23/2021 at 6:17 PM, Rhododendron said:

I have been way overthinking during lockdown and I don't think this has helped my low mood at all. I guess maybe my brain is still adjusting too as it did so love Citalopram. My mood lifted literally within about three or four days when I started taking it. I now take 5-HTP and magnesium daily, plus cod liver oil. I'm making an effort to meditate daily and also do yoga a couple of times a week, both of which really help quieten my mind. 

 

 

We often advise members to learn nondrug coping skills, and it looks like you already have a great toolkit.

About supplements : the only two supplements we recommend is magneisum and omega 3/fish oil.

 

About 5-HTP : I'm not used to this supplement and don't know if it has to be tapered too. You might fins infos in this thread


5-htp-5-hydroxytryptophan-and-l-tryptophan/

Again, welcome :) 

 

 

2006 : 20mg Paxil+Bromazepam. 2008 : cold turkey of both. 2010 : Reinstatement 20mg Paxil + Bromazepam.

2014-June2017 : Switch from Bromazepam to Prazepam, slow taper to 0mg.

2018 to August 2019 : Paxil 20mg taper (3% every 15 days). 22 Aug 2019 updose to 10mg (was at 8.4mg).

25th Sept 2019 To April 2020 : found SA, holding at 10mg Paxil. 

April 2020 : Paxil 10mg to Prozac 7mg bridge. Details topic/21457

 

Current Supplements : magnesium citrate/ fish oil

Current medication :

* Diazepam  : 0.95 mg (24 April 2022) / 1mg Diazepam (since 29 Aug 2020)

* Prozac : 6.24mg (18 July 22) / 6.44mg (22 May 22) / 6.64mg (4 Nov 21) / 6.72mg (8 oct 21) / 6.8 mg (15 Sept 21)6.88mg (14 Aug 21)/ 6.92mg (23 Jun 21)

 

I am not a professional, I don't give medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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  • Erell changed the title to Rhododendron : Feel like Citalopram stunted me developmentally

Hi Erell, 

 

Thank you so much for your warm welcome and for providing the links to additional information, it's been so helpful. It's actually reassuring to be told by another person that my taper was too fast as I've been hard on myself for struggling so much.  

 

The most overriding symptoms over the last few months have been extreme irritation and overwhelm, plus a general feeling of apathy and some bouts of depression. My mind rarely seems to switch off and my thoughts race and dwell on what I perceive to be problems with my life that I must fix; there's a desperation to it that wasn't there before. Major anxiety too, though I've always struggled with this and it was the main reason I was put on Citalopram in the first place. I very easily startle and my surroundings often seem too bright or too loud to tolerate. I had insomnia for the first few months, largely because of the irritation of any noise while trying to sleep...I was able to tolerate my husband's snoring while taking Citalopram because it made me so tired all the time and I would be asleep within minutes! No such luck now. It does seem to have improved a bit and I've adopted a better nighttime routine of making sure I'm focused on reading a book in a quiet room for a while before attempting sleep, which along with Melatonin has helped.

 

Generally, my symptoms are easier to cope with on the days I don't have to be at work and can have a lot of alone time. The good days have been few and far between, though saying that I did just have a couple of days where I felt far brighter and more optimistic, which from what I've read on here sounds like it could well have been a window.

 

I've been reading some of the success stories and it's amazing to read that others have gone on to heal from this. I'm starting to feel a bit more hopeful. 

 

I forgot to mention, one thing I've used on and off to help ease symptoms of panic before I have to enter a worrying situation (i.e. having to go in to the office <_<) is Propranolol. Do you happen to know whether this medication affects withdrawal or not? It's not something I've taken consistently, just now and again. 

 

Thank you once again for your help. :)

2006 - 2015: Citalopram 20mg

Summer 2015: Stopped taking Citalopram, quick wean and no other medication

September 2015 to roughly November 2019: Back on Citalopram 20mg due to panic and depression

January 2020 - April 2020: Weaned off Citalopram. Reduced by 5mg each month for three months, then 2.5mg on fourth and final month.

April 2020 - present: No SSRIs taken. Taking supplements - 5-HTP and Magnesium with Zinc. Also take a cod liver oil capsule daily when I remember.

March 2021: Anhedonia. Stopped taking 5-HTP in case this is exacerbating it.

 

History a bit fuzzy as I stopped taking SSRIs prior to discovering this forum (if only I'd known!)

 

 

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  • Administrator

Hello, Rhododendron.

 

It sounds like you might have very mild withdrawal syndrome that may be causing intrusive thoughts, perhaps meshed with a life-long pattern of self-blame. 

 

You may be able to learn techniques to manage some of these thoughts. See

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Easing your way into meditation for a stressed-out nervous system

 

Ways to cope with daily anxiety

 

Shame, guilt, regret, and self-criticism

 

Coping with irritation, anger and rage

 

The part of this that is exacerbated by withdrawal syndrome should slowly fade, but if you learn these techniques, they will be helpful for the rest of your life. If you can see a therapist to coach you in cognitive behavior therapy or other techniques, that would be helpful, too.

 

Many people find fish oil and magnesium supplements helpful, see


https://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/


https://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/15483-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

You might try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Thank you for sharing your story. Some parts of what you are experiencing are similar to myself and it helps to know that we are not alone or imagining things. 

 

I stopped Citalopram (20mg) on January 1st and the obsessive negative thoughts you mentioned are driving me mad. I am constantly having to try and snap myself out of thinking about all the negative parts of my life throughout the day. Its draining. I think it would really help to try and learn the techniques that have been mentioned above to learn a different thought pattern and to try and change old habits as such. 

 

I really wish you all the best in your recovery x

February 2020 20mg Citalopram 

October 2020 started taper down 

January 2021 stopped Citalopram 5mg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Altostrata, sorry for not responding sooner but thank you so much for your advice and sharing the links; there's so much useful information there. A piece from your post in the top link really resonates: "You may also get anxious or depressed about having odd symptoms because you have beliefs that add to your distress, such as a feeling of helplessness or being a failure. Or, you may feel strong emotions as the drugs no longer mask underlying emotional pain." I think as unpleasant as it feels I most likely am feeling the underlying emotional pain and stress that I covered up and ran away from for so many years via the medication. I actively wanted to be on antidepressants to not feel, so it stands to reason. As frustrating and detrimental as I can see this attitude was, in the present day I'm trying to be compassionate towards my younger self for having that mentality.

 

I've started reading a really good book on CBT methods which is helping me start to identify where my thinking is flawed. I've decided I'm going to look into working with a trained CBT therapist too as I can see how working through this with someone trained to point out my faulty thinking could really help and hopefully provide encouragement.

 

I'm not feeling depressed right now but the anhedonia has been awful. I don't think the UK lockdown is helping at all as it's just day after day of work and monotony but I'm trying to figure out things to look forward to, however small. Just being able to travel somewhere for a walk and a coffee will be something! I stopped taking the 5-HTP a couple of days ago as I've looked into it further and the advice about taking it is so conflicting. I'd been operating under the illusion of "encouraging more serotonin must be a good thing!" but I've read some sources which say that it could inhibit dopamine, which then exacerbates anhedonia. It's incredible how much of a knock-on effect one medication or supplement can have on how the rest of the brain functions, it's just so complex. I will definitely continue taking the magnesium and fish oil though. 🙂

2006 - 2015: Citalopram 20mg

Summer 2015: Stopped taking Citalopram, quick wean and no other medication

September 2015 to roughly November 2019: Back on Citalopram 20mg due to panic and depression

January 2020 - April 2020: Weaned off Citalopram. Reduced by 5mg each month for three months, then 2.5mg on fourth and final month.

April 2020 - present: No SSRIs taken. Taking supplements - 5-HTP and Magnesium with Zinc. Also take a cod liver oil capsule daily when I remember.

March 2021: Anhedonia. Stopped taking 5-HTP in case this is exacerbating it.

 

History a bit fuzzy as I stopped taking SSRIs prior to discovering this forum (if only I'd known!)

 

 

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On 3/2/2021 at 9:53 AM, Candyce said:

Thank you for sharing your story. Some parts of what you are experiencing are similar to myself and it helps to know that we are not alone or imagining things. 

 

I stopped Citalopram (20mg) on January 1st and the obsessive negative thoughts you mentioned are driving me mad. I am constantly having to try and snap myself out of thinking about all the negative parts of my life throughout the day. Its draining. I think it would really help to try and learn the techniques that have been mentioned above to learn a different thought pattern and to try and change old habits as such. 

 

I really wish you all the best in your recovery x

Hi Candyce, I'm sorry to hear that you've been struggling with the obsessive thoughts. I think given the situation with Covid dominating our lives and the lack of physical freedom we've had it's been all too easy to get stuck in our heads. I agree, it really does help to know that we are not alone or imagining these things!

 

A year on, for me I do think there has been a shift from withdrawal symptoms to a bit more stability so if you ride it out it really does get a bit better. The intrusive thoughts are still there but as Altostrata suggested, there is a lot of self blame present. Without the Citalopram spacing me out and numbing all the negative emotions I feel a lot of emotional pain, however there's a clarity to it and by feeling these things rather than running away I can start working on core shame and trauma. It's actually really therapeutic and healing to just cry my heart out some days and I always feel better afterwards. I was led to believe growing up that crying or being angry was wrong so learning to process what have traditionally been viewed as 'negative' emotions has been a very healthy thing I think.

 

Thank you, I wish you all the best too and hope things start to get easier. 🤗 Extra daylight and some warmth should hopefully make things a bit less miserable, it really has been a tough winter.

2006 - 2015: Citalopram 20mg

Summer 2015: Stopped taking Citalopram, quick wean and no other medication

September 2015 to roughly November 2019: Back on Citalopram 20mg due to panic and depression

January 2020 - April 2020: Weaned off Citalopram. Reduced by 5mg each month for three months, then 2.5mg on fourth and final month.

April 2020 - present: No SSRIs taken. Taking supplements - 5-HTP and Magnesium with Zinc. Also take a cod liver oil capsule daily when I remember.

March 2021: Anhedonia. Stopped taking 5-HTP in case this is exacerbating it.

 

History a bit fuzzy as I stopped taking SSRIs prior to discovering this forum (if only I'd known!)

 

 

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  • 4 months later...
On 3/10/2021 at 10:41 AM, Rhododendron said:

Hi Candyce, I'm sorry to hear that you've been struggling with the obsessive thoughts. I think given the situation with Covid dominating our lives and the lack of physical freedom we've had it's been all too easy to get stuck in our heads. I agree, it really does help to know that we are not alone or imagining these things!

 

A year on, for me I do think there has been a shift from withdrawal symptoms to a bit more stability so if you ride it out it really does get a bit better. The intrusive thoughts are still there but as Altostrata suggested, there is a lot of self blame present. Without the Citalopram spacing me out and numbing all the negative emotions I feel a lot of emotional pain, however there's a clarity to it and by feeling these things rather than running away I can start working on core shame and trauma. It's actually really therapeutic and healing to just cry my heart out some days and I always feel better afterwards. I was led to believe growing up that crying or being angry was wrong so learning to process what have traditionally been viewed as 'negative' emotions has been a very healthy thing I think.

 

Thank you, I wish you all the best too and hope things start to get easier. 🤗 Extra daylight and some warmth should hopefully make things a bit less miserable, it really has been a tough winter.

I just wanted to say 4 months on and I am doing so much better. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel with perseverance, patience and kindness 😊😊

February 2020 20mg Citalopram 

October 2020 started taper down 

January 2021 stopped Citalopram 5mg

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You've been through a very hard time.  Many of us have had tough life experiences exacerbated by withdrawal symptoms and can really relate.  But healing happens and is real.  It may take a winding road to get there and it takes more time than we want it to but it happens.  Hang in there.

Current meds:

citalopram 20mg/day. June 2021- Feb 2022  tapered from 40mg/day to 20mg/day using Jozeff's Simple Brassmonkey Slide Tapering Spreadsheet.  

bupropion SR 100mg/day 

buspirone 40mg/day

 

Ativan 2mg 2016-2019; switched to Klonopin

Klonopin 2mg July- Sept 2019;

Benzo free since Sept 2019 after 5 week taper (way too fast)

 

Supplements: Fish oil, vitamins D3, C and B12

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