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Celexa Long-Term Effects | Guidance on Discontinuation

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Outside of personal health consequences, a long-term effect of Celexa and other pharmaceuticals that should concern us all is drug pollution in our rivers and streams. Research is ongoing to detect Celexa and other drug molecules that end up in our groundwater. There are many reasons to re-think mental health treatment on a personal as well as a societal level.

But here, let’s focus on Individuals using Celexa long-term, who are at some direct personal risk to their health. This includes the reactions to stopping long-term use of Celexa which can be horrifically painful. For many, this is the crux of the problem. We will discuss strategies to ease the withdrawal process, which at the same time allow for superior mental health treatments that don’t leave personal and environmental damage in their wake.1-3

Did Celexa let you down
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Alternative to Meds has forged a path forward for more than 17 years helping people to overcome long-term Celexa effects and making it possible to discontinue medication without disastrous consequences. We provide the means for improvements in natural mental health without continuing to rely on drugs. Our published evidence shows that over 77% of our clients successfully discontinue antidepressant medications with the aid of holistic alternatives and recovery strategies. The data shows that the vast majority feel better after treatment at Alternative to Meds Center than they ever did during their years of struggles while on pharmacologic treatments.
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Long-Term Effects of Celexa (citalopram)

Long-term effects of Celexa emerge after taking the medication for more than a few weeks. Some persons have taken antidepressants for years, even decades.

Long-term effects of Celexa may include:
  • celexa long-term effectsDrug withdrawal phenomena, interdosing withdrawal symptoms
  • Insomnia, disturbed sleep
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Hyponatremia
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Emotional blunting
  • Emotional instability

Is Celexa Addictive?

The term addiction is commonly defined as compulsive drug use, and pleasure-seeking behaviors despite experiencing harm to one’s health, social relationships, and negative impacts on one’s career and finances. Terms such as “abuse” and “misuse” are also used to generally indicate the recreational or pleasure-seeking use of medications. Though some instances have been seen in clinical and other environments, these characteristics are extremely rare in users of prescribed antidepressant medication.16,17

However, withdrawal symptoms are shared characteristics of addiction and of drug dependence. Long-term effects of Celexa include becoming dependent on the drug. If a dose is late or missed then one may likely experience withdrawal symptoms until the drug is taken again. When drug dependence occurs, some characteristics of addiction or other long-term effects of Celexa may present, but the usual “treatment” is often to increase the dose or frequency of the drug or to add other medications to a patient’s regimen.

After dependence has developed, withdrawals can be mitigated with a combination of safe tapering protocols, and drug-free alternatives that may provide a more effective and sustainable treatment model. Some proven efficacious nonpharmacological treatments for depression and improved quality of life include CBT, sports and exercise programs, bright light therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and others as shown below.18,19

Celexa Withdrawal Symptoms

After regular, long-term Celexa use, withdrawal symptoms are likely to emerge within 1-2 days after the last dose. Abrupt Celexa discontinuation is NOT recommended as the withdrawals may be intense, even requiring hospitalization for safety reasons. Better to have a carefully designed plan for gradual reduction to ease the process.

Symptoms that may emerge from antidepressant withdrawal generally follow an acronym known as “F I N I S H,” which refers to flu-like symptoms, insomnia, nausea, imbalance, sensory disturbances, and hyperarousal. More information in greater detail can be viewed on our Celexa withdrawal page.

Safe Celexa Discontinuation Guidance

As previously mentioned, gradual cessation is the safest route. One should work with their prescribing physician to devise a slow and gradual Celexa tapering plan that will introduce the least amount of discomfort and shock to the body after the long-term use of Celexa.

Here are some strategies to consider, that may greatly ease the transition, with more detailed descriptions given below the list.

Diet Modification and Supplementation

healthy diet essential for good mental healthDiet and gut health do play a vital role in mood regulation according to medical literature on the subject. According to a study published in the 2016 Nutrients Journal, a diet that provides high levels of tryptophan will include meats, dairy, fruits, and seeds. Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin production. While serotonin has been largely discussed as a brain chemical, it is primarily found in the gut where it is manufactured and distributed throughout the entire central nervous system. Food that is minimally or non-processed is the best source of nutrition and avoids the neurotoxic chemicals that are so prominent in modern food production.

Supplements that are targeted to support physical health can also be strategic after long-term use of Celexa or other drugs. Tryptophan is used in serotonin production and is available in foods as well as a supplement. A wide array of nutrients have proven efficacy in supporting nerve health and neurochemistry including vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamins C, D, and E. Important minerals include magnesium phosphorus, and calcium. Micronutrients from foods and supplements include zinc, chromium, selenium, and many others. Herbal remedies such as passionflower, (passiflora incarnata), ginseng, lavender, chamomile, saffron, and hypericum have shown clinical efficacy for depression and other unwanted symptoms. These nutrients may greatly support healing during recovery.6-9

Physical Exercise

mental health benefits of physical exerciseNeuroscientists have found physical exercise has a direct positive effect on neurotransmitter expression. Using brain probes, animal and human clinical trials, and blood analysis in the lab, these research scientists have determined that exercise is not only good for cardiovascular health, overall fitness, and energy, but exercise activates the generation of new neurons which leads to robust neurochemical expression. And the opposite has also been found, where lack of physical exercise correlates to depression.10-12

Physical exercise is easily practiced and can take the form of walking, jogging, hitting the gym, as well as Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, and a wealth of other possibilities that can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. That sounds like good medicine for improving the quality of one’s life without continuing to suffer the long-term effects of Celexa and other psychotropic medications.13-15

Improve Sleep

sleep hygiene for mental wellnessWhether insomnia was the reason for a prescription of medication, or whether sleep issues came about as a long-term effect of Celexa use, drug-free therapies are often overlooked in repairing the problem. Sleep is a major component of well-being, energy, cognitive sharpness, and many other qualities that add to the enjoyment of life.

Sleep hygiene can be addressed quite effectively by the use of non-allergenic pillows and bedding, ensuring the sleeping area is free from electronics and blue light devices, and the use of a comfortable eye mask if desired. Pre-bedtime routines can be designed for optimum sleep quality, such as not watching a screen for a period before sleep, relaxing exercises and stretching, CBT, and clinically proven dietary supplements such as melatonin, valerian, L-tryptophan, lavender, or kava kava, for some examples.22,23

CBT and other forms of counseling

CBT has been increasingly recommended in clinical settings as a first-line treatment for the relief of chronic insomnia that often occurs as a long-term effect of Celexa. CBT may include a regimen of learned relaxation techniques and other non-invasive methods that can provide the best set of tools for sound, uninterrupted sleep.24

Bright Light Therapy

The use of bright therapy has been popular since the 1980s. BLT is a first-line treatment for seasonal depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Bright light therapy is also effectively used in treating non-seasonal depression. BLT can provide easily accessed relief for long-term Celexa effects including depression and insomnia, by re-setting the circadian serotonin uptake signals in the CNS.25

Celexa Long-term Recovery Success at Alternative to Meds Center

happy client, drug-free, sedona drug rehabThe discussion of the long-term effects of an SSRI like Celexa has included questionable theories and perhaps results of lab tests on rat brains, as well as real-life observations and well-conducted clinical trials.4 Drug manufacturers and their regulators admit they know little to nothing about how antidepressant drugs “work.” Clinical studies show that depression does seem associated with lower serotonin blood levels. Depression is also associated with low levels of vitamin D. Chemical imbalance is a general catch-all phrase that has been used to saturate the advertising of antidepressants. But it should not be overlooked that there can be multiple precursors (nutrition, environment, toxic chemicals, unsatisfactory lifestyle, etc.) that contribute to a depressed state. Drug therapy aims itself as a “one-shot-fix,” but evidence shows a lack of efficacy for many who have found long-term Celexa did not provide the level of improvement they needed. Whether serotonin deficiency, where it exists, can be corrected by a pharmaceutical drug is now answered, according to the 2022 massive review on the subject authored by Moncrieff et al, and published in the 2022 Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.5

The Moncrieff study confirms that taking an SSRI long-term can result in an actual deficiency of serotonin (and other natural neurotransmitters), and may worsen symptoms rather than improve them over time. Natural molecules held in suspension or blocked from reuptake must eventually degrade and be lost as waste. Natural neurotransmitter rehabilitation provided at Alternative to Meds Center provides better answers, using orthomolecular medicine, nonpharmacological treatments, and lab testing to guide the way.20

Rather than utilizing drug-based solutions to mental health issues, Alternative to Meds designs its treatment programs based on lab testing and the judicious use of holistic therapies to ease drug withdrawals in a medically supervised setting. This is the reason for our clients’ consistent success.

Please contact us today for more information on how discontinuation after long-term Celexa use can be eased significantly, and how the use of nonpharmacological treatments can provide the improvements in natural mental health you or your loved one desires, without relying on prescription drugs.


1. Rebelo P, Pacheco JG, Voroshylova IV, Seguro I, Cordeiro MNDS, Delerue-Matos C. Computational Modelling and Sustainable Synthesis of a Highly Selective Electrochemical MIP-Based Sensor for Citalopram Detection. Molecules. 2022 May 21;27(10):3315. doi: 10.3390/molecules27103315. PMID: 35630794; PMCID: PMC9143463. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

2. Metcalfe CD, Chu S, Judt C, Li H, Oakes KD, Servos MR, Andrews DM. Antidepressants and their metabolites in municipal wastewater, and downstream exposure in an urban watershed. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2010 Jan;29(1):79-89. doi: 10.1002/etc.27. PMID: 20821422. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

3. Sehonova P, Svobodova Z, Dolezelova P, Vosmerova P, Faggio C. Effects of waterborne antidepressants on non-target animals living in the aquatic environment: A review. Sci Total Environ. 2018 Aug 1;631-632:789-794. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.03.076. Epub 2018 Mar 16. PMID: 29727988. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

4. FDA label Celexa (citalopram hydrochloride) Tablets/oral solution approval 1998 revised 2011. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

5. Moncrieff J, Cooper RE, Stockmann T, Amendola S, Hengartner MP, Horowitz MA. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 20. doi: 10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35854107. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

6. Knapik JJ, Farina EK, Fulgoni VL 3rd, Lieberman HR. Clinically-diagnosed vitamin deficiencies and disorders in the entire United States military population, 1997-2015. Nutr J. 2021 Jun 15;20(1):55. doi: 10.1186/s12937-021-00708-2. PMID: 34130698; PMCID: PMC8207601. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

7. Capone K, Sentongo T. The ABCs of Nutrient Deficiencies and Toxicities. Pediatr Ann. 2019 Nov 1;48(11):e434-e440. doi: 10.3928/19382359-20191015-01. PMID: 31710362. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

8. Szafrański T. Leki ziolowe w leczeniu depresji–aktualny stan wiedzy [Herbal remedies in depression–state of the art]. Psychiatr Pol. 2014 Jan-Feb;48(1):59-73. Polish. PMID: 24946435. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

9. Janda K, Wojtkowska K, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Skonieczna-Żydecka K. Passiflora incarnata in Neuropsychiatric Disorders-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 19;12(12):3894. doi: 10.3390/nu12123894. PMID: 33352740; PMCID: PMC7766837. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

10. Marques A, Marconcin P, Werneck AO, Ferrari G, Gouveia ÉR, Kliegel M, Peralta M, Ihle A. Bidirectional Association between Physical Activity and Dopamine Across Adulthood-A Systematic Review. Brain Sci. 2021 Jun 23;11(7):829. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11070829. PMID: 34201523; PMCID: PMC8301978. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

11. Meeusen R. Exercise and the brain: insight in new therapeutic modalities. Ann Transplant. 2005;10(4):49-51. PMID: 17037089. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

12. Gianfredi V, Ferrara P, Pennisi F, Casu G, Amerio A, Odone A, Nucci D, Dinu M. Association between Daily Pattern of Physical Activity and Depression: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 May 26;19(11):6505. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19116505. PMID: 35682090; PMCID: PMC9180107. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

13. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul;4(2):49-54. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.85485. PMID: 22022122; PMCID: PMC3193654. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

14. Abbott R, Lavretsky H. Tai Chi and Qigong for the treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2013 Mar;36(1):109-19. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2013.01.011. PMID: 23538081; PMCID: PMC3917559. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

15. Wang F, Man JK, Lee EK, Wu T, Benson H, Fricchione GL, Wang W, Yeung A. The effects of qigong on anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:152738. doi: 10.1155/2013/152738. Epub 2013 Jan 14. PMID: 23401706; PMCID: PMC3557628. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

16. Read J, Cartwright C, Gibson K. How many of 1829 antidepressant users report withdrawal effects or addiction? Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2018 Dec;27(6):1805-1815. doi: 10.1111/inm.12488. Epub 2018 Jun 5. PMID: 29873165. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

17. Evans EA, Sullivan MA. Abuse and misuse of antidepressants. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2014 Aug 14;5:107-20. doi: 10.2147/SAR.S37917. PMID: 25187753; PMCID: PMC4140701. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

18. Horowitz MA, Taylor D. Tapering of SSRI treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Jun;6(6):538-546. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30032-X. Epub 2019 Mar 5. PMID: 30850328. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

19. Phadsri S, Shioji R, Tanimura A, Jaknissai J, Apichai S, Sookruay T. Nonpharmacological Treatment for Supporting Social Participation of Adults with Depression. Occup Ther Int. 2021 Apr 29;2021:8850364. doi: 10.1155/2021/8850364. PMID: 34007254; PMCID: PMC8102128. [cited 2022 Sept 19]

20. Young SN. How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2007 Nov;32(6):394-9. PMID: 18043762; PMCID: PMC2077351.[cited 2022 Sept 21]

21. Warner CH, Bobo W, Warner C, Reid S, Rachal J. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Aug 1;74(3):449-56. PMID: 16913164. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

22. Cauffield JS, Forbes HJ. Dietary supplements used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Lippincotts Prim Care Pract. 1999 May-Jun;3(3):290-304. PMID: 10711131. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

23. Harsora P, Kessmann J. Nonpharmacologic management of chronic insomnia. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jan 15;79(2):125-30. PMID: 19178064. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

24. Trauer JM, Qian MY, Doyle JS, Rajaratnam SM, Cunnington D. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Aug 4;163(3):191-204. doi: 10.7326/M14-2841. PMID: 26054060. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

25. Campbell PD, Miller AM, Woesner ME. Bright Light Therapy: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond. Einstein J Biol Med. 2017;32:E13-E25. PMID: 31528147; PMCID: PMC6746555. [cited 2022 Sept 21]

Originally Published Sept 21, 2022 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Celexa Long-Term Effects | Guidance on Discontinuation
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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