When taking anti-depressants such as Citalopram, patients must not discontinue use without the advice of a physician. Anti-depressants are very tricky medications. You take them to feel better. But when you stop them abruptly and without proper supervision, your initial symptoms can get worse.

So why does this happen? Why do you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms from a drug that is supposed to be safe and effective? This is because drugs are unnatural. They change the normal biochemical processes of the body to inject their effects.

Citalopram Withdrawal

Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor indicated for the treatment of depression. It acts by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the synapses to prolong its effects and improve mood. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical in the brain which helps produce feel-good feelings that counter depression.

Normally, serotonin has to be reuptaken so that the nerve cell can use it again. It undergoes a conservative process. But with the use of citalopram, this valuable neurotransmitter is forced to remain in the nerve synapses. When it stays there, it is broken down into its metabolites until there is no more serotonin left to be taken up.

With the process of conservation broken down, you will likely suffer from overstimulation, sleeplessness, and worsening of depression and anxiety symptoms. This is because you are now completely serotonin deficient. With inhibitory serotonin already exhausted, your body now relies on your medication to help regulate your mood.

Here are the most common citalopram withdrawal symptoms.

1. General Withdrawal Symptoms of Citalopram Use
Flu-like symptoms appear when citalopram is discontinued. The body becomes extremely sensitive to substances in the air, medications or food causing itching, sneezing, skin rashes, hay fever, and nausea or vomiting. You may also feel some discomfort inside your chest. This is caused by not having enough supply of oxygen to your heart due to the narrowing of your blood vessels. Abnormal swelling in your ankles, feet, fingers, and hands may be also experienced. The loss of normal strength and a physically weak condition are also included.

2. Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms Involving the Nervous System
With citalopram working against the normal nervous system processes, many of its withdrawal symptoms are directed into these sensory channels. Because of this, you may experience a lack of normal body coordination that can lead to loss of your balance. Lightheaded feeling due to lack of oxygen in the brain may cause you to go unconscious and fall. Migraines or dull to sharp persistent pain in the head can also be observed.

Muscular tone and contractions will be affected, too. You will manifest uncontrollable tightening of muscles that can cause restless leg, twitching, tics and tremor. Uncontrollable trembling and shaking as if you are cold and chilled is also a symptom.

3. Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms Involving the Cardiovascular
When withdrawing from citalopram abruptly, unusual or abnormal heart palpitations can be experienced. Your heartbeat is sometimes irregular but remains a rapid, forceful thump or flutter. An irregularity in the rhythm of your heart can also lead to symptoms of bradycardia or tachycardia. Bradycardia is when the heart rate of an adult is slowed to below 60 beats per minute, whereas tachycardia is an increase of more than 100 beats per minute. Normal heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute.

An increase in blood pressure may also manifest. When not caught early, this can damage your heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys or will lead to stroke and kidney failure.

4. Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms Involving the Digestive System
The function of your gastrointestinal tract may also be disrupted with citalopram withdrawal. Sudden, severe, and painful cramps of the muscles in your belly will be experienced. Bowel movements may be difficult or unusually frequent and excessive. Belching and bloating are also possible.

Nausea, involuntary throwing up, indigestion, heartburn, swallowing difficulty, gastroesophageal reflux and hemorrhoids are also in the list.

5. Citalopram Withdrawal Symptoms Involving Psychiatric Disorders
Mental and emotional balance will also be affected if you suddenly withdraw from citalopram use. You may lose a sense of place time and personal identity. Depression & anxiety symptoms may also worsen. Anxiety attacks can occur causing intense feelings of fear, dread, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, trembling, and sweating. You may also show symptoms of violence, irritation, agitation and nervousness. You may also give in to unusual fits of weeping for no apparent reason. Feelings of failure, sadness and loss will be aggravated to thoughts of suicide and death.

Based on the symptoms of citalopram withdrawal given, it can be very unpleasant and sometimes fatal. Abruptly discontinuing the use of this drug can lead to the above-mentioned manifestations. To avoid these, you must follow your doctor’s instructions. Tapering the dose and carefully discontinuing the drug will help lessen your withdrawal discomforts.

Author's Bio: 

Ryan Rivera is a survivor of anxiety. He recognizes the help of medication in the treatment of mental health conditions but also believes in natural and alternative methods. These methods are discussed in the website, www.calmclinic.com.