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Citalopram is a drug mainly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, but is also sometimes prescribed for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), eating disorders, and alcoholism. Although there may be some side effects while taking this medication, there may also be repercussions to quitting, especially if the patient suddenly stops. Some common citalopram withdrawal symptoms include irritation or anxiety, headaches, or fatigue.
As is true with many drugs, antidepressants such as citalopram may cause withdrawal symptoms should the patient go through a rapid tapering process or quit all at once. This is often due to the body purging the drug from its system or readjusting after the patient has become dependent on the medication. Citalopram belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are said to stay in the body long after the patient stops taking the drug. This often means that many people will not experience withdrawal symptoms, or if they do, the symptoms will be mild and short lived. This is not always the case, however, and some may experience more severe citalopram withdrawal symptoms even if they miss an individual dose.
Many of the most common citalopram withdrawal symptoms consist of sleep-related issues, such as excessive fatigue, vivid dreams, and insomnia. Some may experience mental or emotional problems while going through withdrawals, such as anxiety and confusion, irritability and restlessness, crying spells, or suicidal thoughts. Physical reactions can include a lack of appetite, frequent sweating, nausea, or fever. Although many of these reactions may be mild, some of the more severe responses can include difficulties in concentration or memory, hallucinations, and brain zaps — an electric shock-like sensation.
Since this drug leaves the body so slowly, many feel that citalopram withdrawal can be avoided entirely. Though this is true for some people, others may require help to avoid or alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms that sometimes develop. One of the most common recommendations for this is to work with a medical professional, who will often prescribe this drug in gradually smaller doses to help the patient taper off at an even pace. Living a healthy lifestyle, such as eating well, drinking plenty of water, and exercising, may also help reduce symptoms of withdrawal. Some also recommend taking supplements of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids to aid in the process; however, it is important to speak with a doctor before starting any supplement.