A person taking Celexa may find the unwanted side effects of the drug overshadow any perceived benefits of continuing to take the medication. In this case, a decision may be made to stop taking Celexa. Except in the case of serotonin syndrome, a person should avoid stopping taking Celexa all at once or “cold turkey.” 27 To do so may introduce an overwhelming shock to the body, and may cause symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization and a lengthy or protracted withdrawal.
With proper guidance and preparation in place, a person does not have to suffer unnecessarily harsh and lingering symptoms of Celexa withdrawal. Without preparation and guidance for navigating a gradual reduction, Celexa withdrawals can be moderate to debilitatingly severe.
Celexa Withdrawal Symptoms include:
Aggressive and irritable mood swings29
Sensory disturbances, hallucinations of sound, sight, touch, taste, etc.16
Brain zaps, electrical shock sensations in the head and neck and or spine*16
Up to 56% of people attempting Celexa withdrawal or coming off other antidepressants experience an antidepressant withdrawal syndrome.
This is also known as Celexa discontinuation syndrome. 46% of those who experience withdrawal claim it is severe.6
Do Your Symptoms Require Celexa?
Alternative to Meds has been an antidepressant withdrawal help authority for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our Celexa withdrawal success. Even with what might be considered the most strange or outlandish symptoms, these same symptoms are much more common than most people are aware. Not only do we specialize in these symptoms, but many of us have also had to endure them ourselves in order to become the teachers that we are.
Watch this video of a woman who overcame incredible odds and liabilities to get off of antidepressants and benzos. On entry to the program, she was barely able to walk and highly symptomatic on the medications. Not only did she get back a life worth living, but she went on to be a therapist helping people in similar ways.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Celexa withdrawal, side effects, and Celexa dependence can be better understood and managed within the greater context of how Celexa can alter brain chemistry. This article covers some information regarding Celexa withdrawal we hope you will find useful. If you are looking for information on tapering Celexa, we suggest you read our Celexa tapering page. Also, if you are looking for alternatives to Celexa, we offer our Celexa alternatives page for more comprehensive information.
Safe Celexa withdrawal (citalopram): What is the best way to quit Celexa?
A person may feel that Celexa addiction or dependence has begun to set in and that it would be best to stop taking Celexa before the situation worsens. It could be that the severity of Celexa’s side effects has become intolerable. There can be many reasons to consider Celexa withdrawal treatment. A person taking Celexa will likely be experiencing a set of side effects already. An onslaught of a new set of Celexa withdrawal symptoms on top of earlier challenges could be completely overwhelming.
This is why adequate preparations have to be put in place before reducing the dosage. Commonly, a person has not been adequately informed about Celexa withdrawal symptoms. Celexa withdrawal symptoms may be severe enough to incapacitate a person, perhaps causing them to give up and resume their Celexa prescription. Because of the potential severity of withdrawal, we recommend inpatient Celexa withdrawal help to achieve a full and successful recovery of physical and mental health.
With adequate preparation, including comprehensive guidance as to what to expect, one can be provided methods within a reasonably scheduled timeline. These actions can successfully mitigate and soften the symptoms of Celexa withdrawals. It is possible for a person to experience a surprisingly mild withdrawal from Celexa and other antidepressant drugs with careful oversight and planning. At Alternative to Meds, our clients receive lab-testing to determine toxicity, diet correction, including supplementation to normalize neurochemistry, toxicity removal therapies, and much more.
WARNING:The FDA and other regulatory bodies warn against suddenly stopping Celexa or any antidepressant medication, due to the tremendous shock this can inflict on the body. What is recommended wherever possible is a gradual reduction as opposed to sudden cessation, or trying to quit Celexa “cold turkey.”
Why are medications like Celexa called SSRI medication?
Celexa is an SSRI medication. SSRI means selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Serotonin is a major regulating hormone affecting just about every area of human health, though it is most commonly thought of as the “happiness chemical.” While there is a grain of truth to that, it’s a rather under-informed view because serotonin also regulates digestion, sleep, sexual function, body temperature, mammary glands, the liver, other organs, energy metabolism, the heart, and uncountable other functions.38 Celexa is called an SSRI antidepressant because it interrupts the normal transmission of serotonin. Drugmakers explain that this interruption is a good thing as it results in a build-up of serotonin.7 However, in pregnant women, faster metabolization rates show a reduced efficacy for SSRI medications, with unanswered questions concerning how this may relate to autism in the offspring.9 There are animal studies that indicate chronic use of SSRIs can actually create a serotonin deficit.8 A 2005 article published in PLOS Medicine talks at length about the disconnect between serotonin claims found in manufacturer direct to consumer advertising and what is discussed in the scientific literature.12
Tolerance is a condition where Celexa stops working and for a significant number of persons, long-term antidepressant use will not provide relief of their symptoms.13,14
If in fact a serotonin deficiency exists, there are many ways to alleviate a serotonin deficiency that are non-pharmacological. 37
Do SSRIs like Celexa work for Major Depressive Disorder?
This type of serotonin-targeting antidepressant may have been prescribed without informing the patient what to expect, especially regarding the lack of evidence for long-term prescribing efficacy.10 A 2017 article published in BMC Psychiatry covering 131 clinical trials involving 27,422 participants discussed the value of treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with SSRIs. They found that SSRIs might have statistically relevant effects on symptoms of depression, but that ALL of the reviewed trials “were at high risk of bias and the clinical significance seems questionable. SSRIs significantly increase the risk of both serious and non-serious adverse events. The potential small beneficial effects seem to be outweighed by harmful effects.” They went on to say “trials tend to overestimate benefits and underestimate harms. The ‘true’ effect of SSRIs might not even be statistically significant.”11 From what we have seen at Alternative to Meds Center, when other methods of holistic mental health care are available without medication side effects, most people tend to recover phenomenally. This includes those who undergo Celexa withdrawal because the medication was not working and those who simply wanted to get pregnant or other reasons for stopping Celexa.
Researcher Paul Andrews, an assistant professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster published an article in a 2015 Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews that claims that the improvement from an SSRI medication is likely a counter-reaction and an attempt to overcome antidepressant medication effects. That the body is trying to achieve balance despite the presence of the SSRI, rather than being assisted by the drug. He goes on to say that “instead of helping, the medications appear to be interfering with the brain’s own mechanisms of recovery.” 15
What do Celexa side effects feel like?
Initially, taking Celexa will begin to suspend (block) serotonin along the nerve channels, and this may produce a lift in tone or a degree of euphoria. These initial mood changes may be sudden or gradual but may be temporary. It is not that a drug can create more serotonin. The effects are attained by manipulating or altering the rate of absorption and metabolism of natural neurochemicals such as serotonin. Strangely, as mentioned earlier, even this lift in mood itself may be a side effect of Celexa as the body tries to overcompensate to the presence of the drug.15
All antidepressant drugs are more or less designed to lift depression in this way and can be effective for some for a time. However, other negative side effects frequently emerge and can range from moderate to severe.
Celexa side effects include: *
Suicidal thoughts, especially in persons under 25 years of age16
Depression that worsens18
Weight loss or weight gain19
Confusion, cognitive disruption, inability to focus attention20
Tachycardia (racing heartbeat) 20
Diarrhea, gas, cramps20
Tingling or numbness20
*See FDA Label for more information on Celexa side effects.
Side effects of Celexa also link to the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding or abnormal bleeding in other areas of the body. These Celexa side effects are thought to be related to the adverse effects that Celexa can have on the coagulation of the blood. Mania is another Celexa side effect of concern. In Celexa drug trials, mania occurred in .2% of 1063 patients taking Celexa and in 0% of those in the 446 placebo group for the trial.16 Based upon citalopram reviews, while some people do see rapid benefit from Celexa, others over a very short period of time can begin to impair a person’s health and reduce the quality of life to a marked degree.22
What do I do if I am having Celexa Side Effects?
While some people may not experience severe or negative Celexa side effects, when these do present they should be discussed with the primary caregiver so that precautions, such as a reduction of dose, Celexa withdrawal, or other medical intervention can be initiated. Some patients may experience unpredictable changes in mood and behavior while taking Celexa. Such Celexa side effects can include a mix of both mental and physical manifestations. These may include panic attacks, increased anxiety, impulsive or aggressive feelings.20 Also reported are negative emotional reactions such as irritability, hostility, agitation, or feeling like hurting oneself.17 Physical side effects of Celexa may present as physical hyperactivity, muscle weakness, and a particularly troubling sensation of restlessness known as akathisia,21 from the Greek root, “akathemi,” which means to be unable to sit down or sit still.
What is Serotonin Syndrome?
Celexa (citalopram) is also linked with serotonin syndrome.16 Serotonin syndrome is a complex set of reactions that may include seizures, motor control dysfunction, respiratory impairment, potentially fatal rise in body temperature, tremors, blood pressure fluctuations, etc., and must be treated immediately due to the life-threatening implications of this drug-induced condition. Below you will find a more comprehensive list of serotonin syndrome signs to watch for.
Serotonin syndrome is the ONLY case for medically supervised, immediate Celexa withdrawal.
More Information on Serotonin Syndrome — Signs to Watch For:
One very troubling side effect of taking Celexa, as with any serotonin-targeted medication, is the risk of a build-up of too much serotonin. This excessive build-up of serotonin can result in “serotonin syndrome.” This is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention including Celexa withdrawal. The remedy for this syndrome is, in part, to discontinue Celexa, but this must be done under strict monitoring and only in a medical facility that can provide immediate emergency treatment including the use of serotonin blockers, intravenous hydration, safe sedation, blood pressure stabilization, and other forms of life support that may be needed.
PLEASE NOTE: Serotonin Syndrome is the only condition where the immediate cessation of Celexa is indicated and it is vital to provide support in a medical setting. Please note that gradual cessation is indicated in virtually every other scenario for safe Celexa withdrawal.
Signs of serotonin syndrome must be watched for as these require immediate medical intervention.
Serotonin Syndrome* symptoms include:
A rapid rise in body temperature23
Loss of coordination23
Blood pressure fluctuations23
*According to Mason et al.’s 2000 review of the subject, about 75% of serotonin syndrome cases happen within 24 hours of initiation or a change in dosage, or in overdose scenarios.
Medical advice for cases of serotonin syndrome will likely be to immediately stop taking Celexa and along with proper medical intervention, monitoring, and support in place, many of these reactions will usually begin to gradually abate over a number of days.26 However, some of these symptoms may persist for quite some time, even after Celexa withdrawal. In these cases, a lengthier period of medical treatment and sometimes hospitalization may be indicated.
Is Celexa Addictive?
Medical opinions and literature vary quite a bit on how addiction is defined, so a definitive answer is not clear. However, in a New Zealand study, about 27% of the group that was involved in the study felt they were either severely addicted, moderately addicted, or had a mild addiction to Celexa or similar medications. Whether it is referred to as Celexa addiction or dependence, those are quite significant numbers and cannot be discounted.3 In the US, NBC News reported one in six Americans are taking antidepressants, and a study found that 60% of those on antidepressants continue taking them for more than 2 years.4 In the UK, it was reported in the British Medical Journal in 2018 that 12% of the British population was taking antidepressant medications and that the number of antidepressant prescriptions rose from 30 million in 2008 to 71 million in 2018.5
Clearly, Celexa addiction and addiction to other antidepressant drugs is a growing concern all over the world, and these soaring numbers show no sign of reversing. Many persons taking antidepressants as cited earlier, continue to take them because they feel the withdrawals are too severe to manage.
Where can I get more information on safe Celexa Withdrawal?
We can provide much more detailed information on request concerning all of the techniques and therapies used in our program at the Alternative to Meds Center. Find out how each program component plays a significant role in the entire process. Our program is dedicated to helping you regain natural mental health using effective treatments for gentle and comfortable Celexa withdrawal so you can live life well, without the need to continue taking prescription medications.
“Over a lengthy course of 8 years, I was taking several different prescription drugs, including Lorazepam, Zoloft, Celexa (citalopram), Effexor, and Paxil, but finally, they were no longer working for me. I went with my husband to Alternative to Meds Center Where it was found that I had low Serotonin and heavy metal toxicity. After five weeks of being there, I’m feeling much, much better and I am off all the medications.” ~Viola
Questions relating to Celexa or citalopram are best directed to one’s prescribing physician, as patient history and health matters can differ greatly from one person to another. However, here are some of the most common questions that arise. It is always safest to seek medical advice from your primary caregiver whenever possible.
What is Celexa (citalopram) used for?
Celexa (citalopram) is approved to treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
It is also given to patients suffering from a surprising number of other conditions, which is termed “off-label” prescribing. These can include such widely ranging conditions as:
Premenstrual dysphoric syndrome (PMDD) 31
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 31
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) 31
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 31
Social Anxiety Disorder 31
Panic Disorder 31
Anxiety disorders 18
Eating disorders 31
Bipolar Disorder 18
Numerous other sets of unwanted symptoms 18,32
Are there patients who should avoid Celexa?
Yes. Celexa is NOT recommended for patients suffering from heart conditions such as long QT syndrome, slow heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, or for patients with magnesium deficiency, potassium deficiency, high blood pressure, patients at risk of or with a history of stroke, kidney disease, or liver disease.31,33,35
Are there alternate names for Celexa (citalopram) around the world?
Yes citalopram (the generic name) is sold under many different brand names in different countries, including:
Celexa in Canada and the US
Humorup in Argentina
Szetalo/Zetalo in India
Estar in Pakistan
Elopram in Italy
Citalex in Iran/Turkey
Citalo in Egypt
Celexa should not be confused with other similar-sounding drug names, or “look-alike” names, like Celebrex, Xanax, or Lexapro. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP) recommends that a prescription label show both a drug’s brand name and the generic name, and also the purpose for the drug so as to reduce the risk of harm or accidental injury.2, 3
Can I drink alcohol while taking Celexa?
Citalopram magnifies the effects of alcohol, and alcohol can conversely augment or alter the effects of medications. This can produce a host of negative effects, such as cognitive impairment, lack of clarity in perception, and impaired motor and muscle control. Therefore, driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of alcohol is not recommended and this would be underscored if both alcohol AND Celexa were to be taken simultaneously. Because of their synergistic effects, there is a very real risk of overdose if too much alcohol is consumed while taking any SSRI medication. Overdose can result in respiratory shutdown, coma, and death.35 Therefore, it is safest to avoid mixing alcohol and Celexa. If you are not certain you can abstain from alcohol, seek medical advice from your primary health caregiver.5
Can Celexa cause weight loss or weight gain?
Yes, reports are clear that Celexa is linked to both weight loss and weight gain. Appetite can be suppressed in some persons resulting in weight loss. However, in other cases, Celexa results in increased appetite which can lead to weight gain. Some persons taking Celexa report no such effects on weight.
Is Celexa a benzodiazepine?
No. Celexa is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) type of antidepressant medication. Celexa targets serotonin, an inhibitory transmitter, and largely ignores other neurotransmitters such as dopamine or GABA. Benzodiazepine drugs primarily target and affect the inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA, which is what results in the tranquilizing effects of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.36 Celexa is primarily targeting serotonin. Though the side effects of these two types of drugs may be similar. how they are thought to work is considered dissimilar.
Can Citalopram cause anxiety?
Yes, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may increase anxiety symptoms, especially in early treatment phases. The study “A Single Dose of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Citalopram Exacerbates Anxiety in Humans: A Fear-Potentiated Startle Study” 4 explored the idea that anxiety increased due to fear or anxiety about taking the drug, rather than anxiety being caused by the drug itself. However, the result of the study concluded that citalopram itself does exacerbate baseline anxiety levels, and therefore can cause or worsen anxiety in some individuals in early treatment. This phenomenon and other side effects may lead to the desire for Celexa withdrawal.
Can Celexa cause suicidal thinking?
Yes, according to the required FDA black box packaging label. The average risk of adverse events representing suicidal thinking or behavior (suicidality) during the first few months of treatment on Celexa and a host of other antidepressant drugs was double that of placebo in drug trials. Long-term use of the drug was not tested in any extended drug trials, so it is not known whether this risk increases over time.1
What is the best way to taper Celexa?
At the Alternative to Meds Center, we use holistic measures to ensure the client weans off Celexa safely and comfortably. The whole process is overseen step by step in a fully-staffed in-patient setting. Clients are carefully monitored during Celexa withdrawal by a team of dedicated specialists, including physicians, addiction therapists, and a wide array of holistic practitioners to enable a thorough, gentle, and health-restoring result. We encourage you to read our Celexa Tapering page
24. Michigan University Medicine Serotonin syndrome May 28, 2019 Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine & Christine R. Maldonado, PhD – Behavioral Health. [cited 2020 Feb 18]
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
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.