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prettyuglybefore: citalopram taper - feeling hopeless


prettyuglybefore

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Hi everyone. 
 

i started taking citalopram (either 10/20mg, I can’t remember the dose) about 2.5 years ago now, a few months before the pandemic kicked off. Ironically, I don’t think I needed to go on it at all but asked my gp to be put on it because I have been known to have very extreme adverse reactions (debilitating upset and grief) to big life changes in the past, and I was making a big life change (relocation, new job, leaving happy but dissatisfied living situation behind) after years of indecision about it. 
 

anyway, I was in a good state of mind when I want on the cit - hopeful, optimistic, strong feeling - but asked to be put on it for a short spell to help negate any potential feelings of anxiety/not being able to cope, which I worried would jeopardise this life change. I didn’t experience any of the adverse reactions I so worried about but stayed on the cit for a few months. Then, the pandemic happened. Life was still in a massive transitional phase for me; I’d just moved in with someone I didn’t know and all of the pandemic stuff obviously felt even weirder in an unsettled situation, so I decided, even though my mood was fine, not to rock the boat and come off the cit during this weird time. 
 

Fast forward six months and some more big life stuff happened (including supporting a new partner through his own significant mental health issues, moving in, etc).  I upped dose to 40mg as I’d started struggling with my mood; of course we were in the first winter lockdown in Scotland at this point which lasted really about 6 months or so, and I’d been going through a pretty traumatic time supporting my partner (this is an understatement). I seemed to put on a lot of weight suddenly (I’ve always had somewhat fluctuating weight but this was a lot, about 2 stone almost overnight). Nothing I could do over the coming months would budge the weight and this was incredibly depressing for me as body image is already something which I have struggled with throughout my life. I also started experiencing extreme fatigue, bloating, aches and pains in joints, etc. was sure I had undiagnosed thyroid condition. 
 

felt like 40mg didn’t help my mood and then started to wonder if weight and other symptoms could be linked to citalopram.
Decided to taper off and started in July ‘21.
 

I can’t remember the exact details but my mental health had already started to decline before I decided to come off. A lot of this felt to do with being depressed about weight, lethargy, fitness decline, etc etc, but also other life events were extremely stressful and I was struggling a lot to deal with all of this and the pressures of work (secondary school teacher) and a two hour commute each day. 
 

mental health really began declining in October/November; of course it was also winter time, and again more major life stresses (buying a flat and renovating it from scratch). I found out I was pregnant in December (just before Christmas) and we decided I would get an abortion because I felt, among other things, my mental health was so terrible that the timing was impossible. This was obviously very sad although I feel it was the right decision. 
 

I should have said that the main withdrawal symptoms I have noticed, apart from a few bouts of dizziness/feeling off balance, and nausea, have really been emotional/mental ones - particularly waves of irritability/disproportionate anger, panic/high anxiety and some panic attacks, and the worst being extreme lows in mood, with suicidal thoughts and ideations. I did notice that I experienced these especially badly when fluctuating between a dose of 10–5mg for a while (see signature); hence, I agreed with a doctor that I would stop totally when I got to 5mg, rather than alternating 5/0/5 etc. This was after I asked for liquid citalopram after reading here about that; however the doctor told me it is only available in high doses (40mg) - I am in the UK. So I decided just to stop after staying at 5mg for 6 weeks or so. 
 

i stopped  8 days ago and have had a bout of stomach flu. I wondered at first if it was withdrawal, but I do think it was a 24 bug (fingers crossed). However this weekend after being stuck inside, I have felt extremely low, suicidal and hopeless. I feel like I am never going to get off these drugs and/or get my life, or some semblance of the person I used to be, back. I feel like being on citalopram has stolen who I am. I have had a lot of periods of being off work this year, related to mental health but also terrible bad back, sprained ankle, lots of things. I can’t afford to keep taking time off as I have a lot of debt to pay off and I can only just afford everything. 
 

my partner is very supportive and loving and he does not want me to go back on the drugs persay, but he does worry that I need to be on them and that I am going to do something stupid without being on them. 
 

i have days of being fine (windows I suppose?) and then just feel so hopeless. It doesn’t help that so much in my life just feels so unstable and hard and has done for some time too. 
 

Sorry for this mammoth post. It’s late and I just had to get it all out. 
 

also, weirdly I was on 10mg (I think) of citalopram about 12 years ago. Going on it was horrible for a week or so but I stopped cold Turkey (after 5 months) and don’t remember any side effects! So odd. 
 

edit: I realised I didn’t really ask any questions. 
 

I guess the main thing I wonder is whether I can (or should) wait it out over a few weeks and see how withdrawal effects start to improve, or whether I should aim to reinstate even a small amount (eg 1mg) by making liquid solutions. 
 

i hate the idea of making liquid solutions because things like this overwhelm me at the best of times but I realise it may be necessary. 
 

I’ve been stuck in this limbo (in which, sadly, I’m sure most people on this site either are or have been) of not wanting to rush my taper (this last 9 months has been so hard and has felt so long) and wanting off these drugs as I feel they’re potentially making my life feel so unbearable (particularly if they are behind issues like my weight, lethargy, apathy, etc). What’s better, the pain of being on drugs or the pain of coming off them?
 

thanks in advance for any help you can offer. 💜

Oct ‘19: Started (10?)20mg of citalopram

January ‘21: Increased dose - 40mg

1st July ‘21: start taper. 30mg  

1st August ‘21: 20mg 

1st Oct ‘21: 20/10/20 alternate (av. 17mg)

13 Oct ‘21: 20/10/10 alternate (av.13mg)

1st Nov ‘21: 10mg. 

15 Jan ‘22: 10/5/10 alternate (av. 8mg)

1 Feb ‘22: 5/5/10 alternate (av. 6.6mg)

15 Feb ‘22: 5mg. 

2nd April ‘22: 0mg. 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to prettyuglybefore: citalopram taper - feeling hopeless
  • Moderator

Hello, and welcome to SA.  We are a volunteer-run community of people who have been or are getting off of psychiatric drugs.  You came to the right place.  It sounds like you are having withdrawal symptoms from having tapered the drug too fast, and also from varying your doses during the taper recently.  No judgement - there is little information out there about how to get off properly.  I understand the feeling of feeling trapped by the drug - you are uncomfortable on the drug, but miserable off of it.  There is a way out of this trap.  Please read on.  

 

Are you on any other drugs or supplements?  If so, please add them to your signature box.  Thank you. 

 

Here is some important information about how these drugs actually work.   This explains why we get symptoms from going off of these medications, and why it's so important to taper slowly and carefully, and be very cautious about changing our doses: 

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

 

This helps you understand what withdrawal syndrome is: 

 

Video on Recovery from Psych Drugs

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

 

Here is a link with checklists of common WD symptoms: 

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen Withdrawal Symptom Checklists

 

 

Here are some techniques to cope with symptoms: 

 

Non Drug Ways to Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms

 

Stability is really important.  Please read the link about stability:

 

Keep It Simple, Slow, and Stable

 

 

We don't suggest many supplements, but 2 that many of us find helpful are magnesium and omega-3 fish oil. Here are the links for info about those. It is suggested to add one at a time, and start with a low dose to see how it affects you. 


Magnesium

Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

Finally, going back on a small dose of your drug, which we call reinstatement, is best done very carefully.  This is temporary, and after stabilizing you would then taper gradually off of this.  There is some risk involved.  Here is some information about reinstatement.  

 

About Reinstating and Stabilizing to Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms

 

You have 2 options: 

 

1) stay off the drug and tough it out, and wait for your nervous system to heal. 

 

2) reinstate in the hope of lessening withdrawal symptoms.  

 

I would suggest, if you do reinstate, to start with a dose of 1 mg of citalopram. Stay on this a week, as it takes this long to register with your system.  If you feel significantly worse, stop the reinstatement right away.

 

As a note:  Even if the liquid is only available in a high dose, you can take as much or as little of the liquid as you need for your dose by using a syringe.  And, it can be diluted with water to make it easier to measure.  

 

Tapering and Dosing Citalopram

 

Citalopram Liquid in the UK

 

Please do let us know what you decide to do.  Please know that eventually, your nervous system and brain will heal.  It will take a lot of time and patience, but eventually it will happen, if you take proper care of yourself.  Remember, you were find before you ever went on these drugs.  

Please do not tag me, unless it is a question about tapering or withdrawal.

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005 

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, breakfast, 3 PM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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  • Moderator

Another thing I wanted to add: please do not ever skip or vary doses from day to day.  This causes an uneven level of the drug in your system, and can really wreak havoc on the nervous system, and make you feel a lot worse.  

 

Never Skip Doses to Taper

Please do not tag me, unless it is a question about tapering or withdrawal.

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005 

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, breakfast, 3 PM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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