Wearing Off Celexa: How To Stop Taking Citalopram Safely

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Celexa (Citalopram hydrobromide) effectively manages psychiatric disorders; however, stopping taking the drug can be challenging. Being a potent medication, namely a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), means that instant Celexa stopping or minimizing dosages could lead to signs of withdrawal.

Stopping Celexa: When And Why

There is no ultimate guide on how to stop taking Celexa, and when it is the right time. At the same time, many patients suffer from stopping using the drug. First of all, some users decide to discontinue citalopram right after they feel better. As this process can take between 12-16 weeks, the body systems get used to the drug. If a patient stop citalopram abruptly, the adverse effects can be experienced. Additionally, there is a high risk that the treated symptoms will return and aggravate a patient’s state.
Weaning off antidepressants like citalopram should be considered only after the end of the prescribed treatment period if the signs of abuse are detected, and by recommendation of the medical staff. Also, a patient may experience a number of moderate and severe citalopram side effects. In this case, stopping the drug is advisable as well. However, the process of wearing off Celexa need to be under a doctor’s supervision. A doctor guides how to stop taking Celexa to balance the overall serotonin level, thus, remedying symptoms of withdrawal from the drug.

Side Effects After Stopping Celexa

woman weaning off celexaMost of the symptoms experienced after coming off Celexa are not unique to the drug only but are prevalent for most antidepressants. The most common side effects include:

  • Changes in body weight. Getting off citalopram alters serotonin levels in the brain which brings about the fluctuation of body weight during and after use. In between doses, the serotonin level is high. Hence, rapid weight gain is observed.
  • Interruption of normal sleep patterns. Weaning off citalopram can disturb the sleep a patient is accustomed to, but only momentarily. Sleep may elude a patient at night which will result in fatigue during the day.
  • Erratic moods. When taking citalopram, moods are well coordinated with sustained production of serotonin, but one of the most prevalent side effects of stopping citalopram is the mood swings as the body readjusts.
  • Fatigue and dizziness. Lack of consistency in sleep leads to a difficult getting up in the morning and a general feeling of lethargy through the day, as well as Celexa headaches. From time to time, dizziness will be part of a patient’s day, but the good news is that it quickly gets easier with a little perseverance.
  • People stopping Celexa often express signs of anxiety. The scale of nervousness varies for different individuals; but immediately after stopping, being jittery is part of the process on how to stop taking citalopram safely.
  • Malicious thoughts. An antidepressant fashions the most suitable environment for a user which is free of depressant thoughts. Once one stops Celexa, the initial days may be characterized by unconventional thoughts that could be self-destructive.
  • Another recorded side effect is the feeling of nausea. Patients who express this side effect do not reach a point of actual vomiting when weaning off Celexa is facilitated by an experienced medical practitioner.

Tapering Schedule And Timeline

Considering Celexa drug classification, the functional basis for citalopram is its influence on serotonin level. In its turn, it is responsible for critical chemical reactions in the brain impacting the response of the entire body. The tapering schedule and timeline largely depends on how long the drug has been in usage. Continued use creates more dependency on the antidepressant, hence, prolonging the timeline. When considering how to wean off Celexa 20 mg, a patient should downgrade the dosage to 10 mg for a week, then lower it to 5 mg for a week which is half of the 10 mg pill, then discontinue the dosage. The same downgrading of dosage criteria applies when seeking on how to wean off Celexa 10mg dosage.

Stopping Citalopram Cold Turkey: The Posed Dangers

It is highly advisable to seek the healthiest way on how to get off citalopram as techniques such as cold turkey drastically stimulate the nervous system. This could be damaging if stopped at once. In the most severe cases recorded, stopping cold turkey without planning it first can lead to heart issues and even seizures. For recreational drug users, the abrupt quitting does not favor them either as their overall tolerance to drugs is significantly lowered. This means that the effect of alcohol or any other form of substance abuse will have a greater toll on them leading to higher chances of an overdose.

How To Stop Celexa Effectively And Safely

how to stop taking celexa safelyWhen it comes to medications that affect how the brain works, having a plan to manage the dependency lets a patient maintain an optimal state of health, especially when seeking the healthiest way on how to get off Celexa. In recent times, pharmaceuticals have come up with a specialized dosage on how to wean off citalopram which has proved to be effective in eliminating the withdrawal side effects. The traditional way of managing Celexa withdrawal is also recommended by working on the best possible outcome with a doctor. The doctor lowers down dosages based on how the body responds as observed in scheduled visits during the weaning down period. By necessity, the doctor offers the tapering down schedule which normally involves a reduction of dosage in the intervals of 2-6 weeks. Even when the side effects start kicking in, it is highly advisable to stick to the tapering dosage to sustain good health.

Prevention Of Undesired Effects Of Stopping Citalopram

Finding sustainable ways of dealing with depression other than Celexa, for instance, through self-care practices, equips an individual with tools to power through tough situations. A need in the use of antidepressants can often be often overestimated. Citalopram should be used only for a limited time in a bid to treat a disorder. In any other case, prolonged use can lead to abuse or misuse which require additional addiction treatment in the professional rehab facilities.

Page Sources

  1. Fumi Kaneko, Yukie Kawahara, Yuki Kishikawa, Yuuki Hanada, Makiko Yamada, Tatsuyuki Kakuma, Hiroshi Kawahara, Akinori Nishi, Long-Term Citalopram Treatment Alters the Stress Responses of the Cortical Dopamine and Noradrenaline Systems: the Role of Cortical 5-HT1A Receptors, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5006198/
  2. How should antidepressants be discontinued?, https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/medicines/how-should-antidepressants-be-discontinued/

Published on: April 23rd, 2019

Updated on: June 3rd, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


Leave a comment

  • Drake
    I have been taking citaloprsm every other day for about 2 weeks and have had a few headaches and feeling agitated . I am trying to eventually come off these.
    • Kristin
      Can I ask what was your original dosage? And how long have you been on them? I’m on 20mg myself for the past 11 years. I was looking to come off them also.
    I’ve been on Celexa for 7 years 20 mg at first , then 10 now 15. I want to wean off. Can I cut down 5 mg each month and be safe . Should I quit after taking 5mg for a month or mean to 2.5 mg?
    • Kevin S.
      I have been taking celexa for about 7 years also but I’ve been at 40 mg’s daily, I cut my dose from 40 down to 20. It has been a rough few days. I’m hoping it gets better.
      • Sky
        Did it get better??? How long did it take? My bf is weaning off 40mg took 20 last nights going to take 40 tonight then alternate like that for a little. Is it better to just cut it in half right away?
  • Leslie
    This is my 2nd time coming off citalopram in the past 7 years. The first time was too quick and made me have severe dizzy spells for a couple of weeks. This time I was only talking 10 mg a day so I cut down by taking it every other day for a week then 5 mg evert other day for a week then 2.5 every other day for a week. It seemed to be ok this way but my 4th day off I got the dizziness a bit and a little nauseous with sleeplessness. So I took 1 more 2.5 dose. I have been totally off of it for about 8/9 days and I have noticed that as I started my menstral cycle 2 days ago that I have been more emotional than other months and having some lightheaded and dizzy spells. I’m pretty sure it’s tied to the lack of celexa. I’m hoping to ride out the week and praying it’s gone. I hope this helps anyone or if anyone has any replies or suggestions let me know.
  • Whit
    I’ve been on celexa 20mg for 5 years then they increased it to 40mg for about a year I’m ready to wean off so I’m taking 30mg for a month then 20 mg for a month then 10mg etc… I’m starting to Feel like my body is heavy and dizzy how long does this last??????
  • Joan
    Been on citaloptam 20 mg. Wish to discontinue. Took 1/2 pill 2 days. What do I do next.