Celexa Withdrawal Symptoms And Detoxification Process

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Celexa withdrawal symptoms are physical and psychological manifestations that occur when someone abruptly stops taking Celexa medication as prescribed by the doctor. These withdrawal symptoms can cause major discomfort to the patient particularly if they have been taking Citalopram for more than six weeks. However, there are detox methods that can assist the patient to alleviate the Citalopram withdrawal symptoms.

Celexa Withdrawal

What Is Citalopram Withdrawal?

As with other drugs of its class, citalopram withdrawal symptoms occur after discontinued use of the drug for more than a few hours or days depending on certain factors. The manifestations typically look like those exhibited by depression patients giving an initial fear of relapse to the patient according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Immediate And Long Term Effects Of Celexa Withdrawal

Exhibiting citalopram discontinuation effects or withdrawal symptoms does not necessarily mean that someone is addicted to citalopram. However, suddenly stopping Celexa intake will promptly lead to an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain causing the patient to develop psychological manifestations of depression as well as some physical symptoms. Furthermore, these psychological symptoms may make the patient develop suicidal thoughts in the long-term if there is cold turkey withdrawal from Celexa instead of tapering off the drug slowly.

Celexa Withdrawal Symptoms

woman with celexa withdrawal symptomsWithdrawal from citalopram causes symptoms that are not life-threatening but can cause discomfort and irritability to the patient. The severity of these symptoms depends on how long the patient has been taking Citalopram. The longer someone takes the drug, the more accustomed the brain becomes to the drug, therefore, worse discontinuation symptoms. Citalopram dosage also plays a role, because taking a higher dosage than the standard 20mg will cause an increased manifestation. Other factors that affect the individual’s severity of Celexa withdrawal effects are an individual’s physiology, genetics and the method they choose to quit the drug whether tapering or cold turkey. These symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Memory problem
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Temperature sensitivity, particularly high temperature
  • Muscle spasm
  • Tremors
  • Strange sensations such as numbness or pain
  • Brain zaps and shock
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Constant headaches

Citalopram withdrawal side effects may last a couple of weeks or take several months to subside depending on the time it takes for the brain to adjust to the new serotonin levels. Therefore, it is recommended to consult a medical doctor before deciding to stop taking Celexa. The doctor will give an advice on how to cope with the manifestations and work to help taper off the drug.

Celexa Withdrawal Timeline

Citalopram has a long half-life meaning the body breaks it down longer than other antidepressants in the same class of medicines. Research has shown that antidepressants with a short half-life have a far worse stoppage of use effects than those with a longer half-life. In a comparison of citalopram vs Lexapro, it was found that Lexapro only took 6 days to clear completely from the body, while citalopram took 7 days.

How Long Do Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

According to doctors, this should subside within a few weeks after discontinuation. Although for some people this may not be the case because of prolonged use and high dosage intake. Research also tends to differ on the length of this period. According to the U.S National library of medicine, the average time for Celexa drug class medications was ninety weeks. This is more than those of the other class of antidepressants called the Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) that lasts only fifty weeks.

Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

  • Day 1-3: Most patients begin experiencing the first manifestations such as irritability, agitation, and anxiety.
  • Day 4-6: The withdrawal manifestations become more intense, and patients may experience dizziness, shaking, and fever.
  • Week 1-4: In some people, the symptoms will persist; however, during this period the intensity tends to reduce, and only headache and weakness may remain.
  • Week 5+: Depending on how accustomed to Citalopram the patient is, withdrawals tend to have subsided to a greater extent during this period. Only the psychological symptoms like mood swings and disturbed sleeping.

How To Manage Withdrawal Symptoms?

woman overcoming celexa withdrawlDiscontinued use of the drug should only be done through the supervision of a qualified medical professional who is at a better position to help manage the symptoms. Also, someone experiencing Citalopram withdrawals should work with a counselor through a therapy session either in person or online. People using citalopram for depression may also experience side effects from the use of the drug, therefore, seeking therapy and medical attention will help them alleviate these manifestations as well. The following activities can also be done when someone is experiencing Citalopram withdrawal symptoms:

  • Maintaining or beginning a good workout routine to help with the emotional imbalance
  • Meditation and yoga to suppress depressive thoughts
  • Consider switching to an alternative antidepressant medication through a doctor
  • Eating a balanced diet to keep the body’s energy levels up
  • Socializing with other people who are close ones such as friends and family to form a support system
  • Using other medication and supplements such as Magnesium through a doctor, in cases where the withdrawal manifestations become prolonged
  • Practice healthy sleeping habits by going to sleep around the same time each night and sleeping for around eight hours

Celexa Withdrawal Medications And Detox

Detox is usually the first step towards quitting the use of any drug and it when the body removes any traces of the drug after the stoppage of use. Apart from counseling, medication and supplements can be administered to a patient to help alleviate Celexa withdrawal side effects. Some people may ask how Celexa works because it may not be clear why there may be a need to use another medication to alleviate its withdrawal symptoms. However, doctors usually prescribe a single 20mg tablet of Fluoxetine which is a shorter acting antidepressant to washout Citalopram from the system. There are no approved drugs to address antidepressant withdrawals; however, slow acting antidepressant alternatives such as Prozac can be used to reduce the effects.

How To Choose Celexa Rehabs

Choosing the right rehab is a step in the right direction if someone is to beat any addiction and the resultant symptoms that come with discontinued use. There are numerous citalopram rehabilitation centers and some of the factors to consider before choosing one are:

  • Costs implications of the particular rehab center
  • Type of rehab: an outpatient or inpatient facility
  • Treatments and therapy models available
  • The range of amenities that a particular rehab center offers
  • Location of the rehab center, the closer it is, the more convenient it will be
  • The treatment length within the Celexa rehabilitation program

Find Professional Help

Citalopram withdrawal will definitely seem unbearable during the first weeks of discontinuation making the patient develop relapse like depressive. However, having a strategy on how to manage these symptoms will assist patients in pulling through this period. Rehabilitation and addiction centers where patients can receive therapy and counseling are important in reducing the severity of withdrawals. With proper treatment, the process of recovery will pass faster and easier.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=29758951+&otool=nynyumlib&myncbishare=nynyumlib

Published on: April 23rd, 2019

Updated on: June 10th, 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.


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