May 29, 2023

I went on Citalopram medication 5 years ago after a major panic attack put me in the ER.

Oh hello everyone just wanted to uh give a story about myself on the medication called citalopram or celexa i’ve watched several videos on youtube already about other people and other antidepressants and i thought it would be a good idea to give your own experience so for a quick rundown i live in the pacific northwest in the united states five years ago

At a work retreat i had a mental breakdown um i was about two hours from home and i had symptoms like lightheadedness i felt like i was going to pass out very fidgety very nervous i didn’t know what was going on with me i told my co-workers and let them know you know i feel like i’m gonna pass out and they started telling me to just drink a bunch of water and

Asked if i needed to go to the hospital and i said no no i just need to relax and chill out a little bit but then they started you know um acting like doctors and telling me what they thought was wrong with me they thought maybe i was going into diabetic shock or all these things that started making me freak out even more um needless to say the drive back home

Was miserable and terrible and i went to urgent care after i got back home and they wouldn’t see me they said my symptoms didn’t look like anything that they could help with so i needed to go to the er which scared me even more so i kept having these layers of of terror so i went to the er and they did a bunch of tests on me and ekg blood tests x-rays i think

They did x-rays just a bunch of tests and everything came back negative and the er physician or doctor told me to go to my primary care physician be diagnosed with whatever he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong with me that was very concerning but because the tests all came back negative i kind of started coming back down a little bit now the problem with going to

My doctor is i did not have one at the time because through most of my life never really went to the doctor but luckily for me i called up and um i was able to get my first doctor within a few days i think those few days were very difficult very hard eventually i went into the doctor and he gave me these questionnaires to fill out asking me about stress and

Anxiety and i’m like what is this and he came back and told me that i had a condition called panic disorder never had that in my whole life i was i think at the time in my mid-30s and i didn’t understand i didn’t understand what was wrong with me why that happened to me um but he gave me two medications um first he showed me a list of all of the antidepressant

Medications and all their side effects and he said you know here’s the list of medications that might be able to help you i’m going to let you pick which one you want to pick based on the side effects and so i took a quick glance at the mall and um i went with citalopram because it had at least at the time what appeared to be the least amount of side effects he

Also prescribed to me a drug called um lorazepam i think was the name it’s a benzodiazepine he told me i was very addictive and to only use it when i needed it when i had really really stressful occasions so i said fine i think i only had like maybe 10 or 15 bills um so i started taking the citalopram immediately i think i started on a 10 milligram dose and he

Told me that it would take four to six weeks before i would really feel any effect from it but at that point i was still incredibly desperate to just not be an anxious wreck which i was basically 24 hours a day seven days a week that might as well just try anything at that point he also started me in therapy but that didn’t go very well the therapist was assigned

Wasn’t very good um so that only lasted four or five sessions and i didn’t do very well on those um but as far as the following two months um on this medication uh after a after a few weeks he bumped me up to 20 milligrams of citalopram when i was at work and whenever i had really really bad um anxiety where i was kind of doing this and i’d kind of hunch over

And and basically be unable to function at work or even at home um he said that’s when i should take a lorazepam i think they’re really small like 0.25 milligram just tiny little baby pills but it helps um they worked really fast and got you out of those really really really bad moments i could definitely sense the addictive side to them so i made sure to only

Use them when i absolutely needed to um and over the course of the first four weeks i think of the citalopram i had a few side effects um especially with digestive stuff you know i had diarrhea and abdominal pain i get really sweaty especially my palms and my my feet i had a few really bad nightmares one was so bad that it woke me up in the middle of the night

My heart was just pounding really really hard and um so i took out lorazepam in the middle of the night which i’d never had to do before just to get myself back to sleep it was i do remember that first four weeks just being an absolute nightmare from the the time i had that mental breakdown at work until i um finally got better about two months later it was just

Every day was a nightmare um but when you when you fill out that questionnaire that ask you all those questions is like zero to three you know how much does this symptom affect your life how much does this symptom affect your life um one of them was suicidal ideation and that was the only question i had a zero on because i had no suicidal tendencies at all that was

What was really weird about this i was terrified of dying absolutely terrified and i think that was a big part of my anxieties all these physical symptoms i was having the lightheadedness and the you know the the gnawing in my hands like this um i was terrified just just it’s difficult to explain how afraid i was uh every day it was living in absolute and under

Fear about four weeks later though i started to get better during this four weeks i lost about 15 pounds because i was so nauseous and so nervous i couldn’t eat i was basically down to just drinking and ensure every day you know those little adult beverage those little adult bottles with the milk powder and sugar and whatever else is in it um that was basically

The only thing i’d get down because i was so nauseous um so about four weeks later i i started to improve a little bit but i wasn’t quite there yet um i stopped taking the lorazepam though because i didn’t have the complete shutdown anxiety attacks or panic attacks that i was having before and i would say it took me about two full months to get to a point where

I could function like a normal person again but it worked the citalopram works and it got me to stop having panic attacks almost entirely um i would have little little baby panic attacks here and there that would last maybe 10 to 15 minutes um over the course of the next few years but for the most part for four and a half years i was fantastic and this is going

Through the pandemic and the great recession and the war in ukraine um i just i was able to make it through all that okay and so at about four and a half years which is about what was that uh six months ago now about four months ago now um me and my doctor decided hey let’s let’s try to go off your meds you’re doing good you’ve lived your life pretty happy for the

Last four and a half years um let’s try it so i did a six week tapering off period so for the first month i dropped from 20 to 10 milligrams and then for two more weeks i did a half of a 10 milligram pill i just cut it in half and took half of a pill and then i was off and i was fine for perfectly fine everything was great this was during summer time so you know

It’s nice and sunny outside i was getting much a house work done that i wanted to get done and a bunch of chores a bunch of organization and then suddenly in the middle of august um is collapsed again just had a it wasn’t it was different this time though it was in a panic attack it was um well maybe it was a panic attack i don’t know but i had an overwhelming

Sense of dread and loneliness and i never feel lonely that was the weird thing about it um isolation loneliness gnawing at me intrusive thoughts just constantly in my mind i would wake up in the morning my hands and feet were sweating and i was doing kind of a similar kind of hunched over doing this thing so i had completely regressed to paying the span of three

Months i don’t know why it took three months i know citalopram has a pretty decent half-life 36 hours i think 48 hours but once it’s built up in your system that much over four and a half years i think it took a long time for that to kind of finally flush all out my doctor told me that when you’re on an ssri for a long time it can have permanent effects i guess is

What some studies have said but i don’t think that’s very true now in my case so for about two weeks i suffered um well i wouldn’t say two weeks is actually about four weeks i suffered again there was mornings where i was curled up in a bottle on the floor crying um begging for help and there was nobody around me to help me because i live alone i have family and

Friends so i confide it in them um but it was hard really hard so i called my doctor and said you know something’s wrong with me i don’t understand why i’ve regressed like this so he suggested i get back on my meds and try therapy again um i was resistant at first for some reason i i don’t know why i was so resistant i think it was a bit of shame i felt that

I wasn’t able to live off of the medication um but my mother told me a very good analogy she said do you think diabetics feel shame for being on insulin do you think you know people with high cholesterol feel shame for being on statins all these other medications that people take for afflictions that they suffer from but for some reason you know in our culture

There is a sense of shame with mental illness that is unjustified and and frankly immoral and so after a few days of suffering more i said you know what i would rather be on the medication and feel a little bit of shame then feel the way i was feeling so i got back on again the same drug the same citalopram because it already worked for me so i thought about trying

Something else but i didn’t want to go through some experimental phase when i had already had something that worked so i started again on 10 milligrams and this time i started therapy again i tried once more and this time i got a very good therapist one who is working with me and helping me so i’m very very happy about that i’ve only seen her twice so far but every

Time i get a schedule i start to put on my my calendar i’m very happy about getting to go and see her because it really does help a lot um so after about two weeks of being on the telegram 10 milligrams i went back to my doctor and we discussed um you know should i stay at 10 and see if that works um or should i go up to 20 i can always go back down to 10 later

Um so i left that decision up to my doctor because i couldn’t make a rational decision there at the time i was such an emotional wreck um um this time is different than what happened last time it’s a totally different kind of anxiety um i think the medication got me through the covet isolation without me even knowing it and once i got off the medication all that

Locked down all the fear um all the anxiety came rushing back and now i need to get back on so i’ve been back on for three weeks now two weeks at 10 milligrams in one week at 20. and i would say yesterday was the first semi-normal day i’ve had in the last four weeks because or about five weeks now because uh yeah my i was about two weeks without doing anything

At first so i’ve been back on for about three weeks and the medication seems to be working faster this time i didn’t do any benzos this time um i’m just worried about the addictive nature of them and i i was a little afraid of getting hooked on that um probably wouldn’t because i got off last time i had a problem but i just want to be careful they really feel

Good the benzos do but um yeah i wanted to i want her to just be on the citalopram so that’s it just the one the one medication um so i i just wanted to let everybody know that that if you are like me and you had a resurgence like that there’s no shame in getting back on the medication i feel better and i’m hoping over the next few weeks to improve even more to

Where i i was before where i could just function normally for me um this time the strangest part was um the um the mornings were really hot the mornings are really hard i’m doing this in the morning it’s about 11 a.m right now so i’m starting to come out of the morning fog in the morning anxiety um crushing anxiety that i feel in the mornings um a lot for this

Time i lost about 12 pound in just three weeks because of the nausea and stuff um but i think i’m starting to put a little bit of weight back on but yeah uh i should never have gotten off in the first place um but i think it was worth a try i think it was worth a try but maybe the timing was bad i didn’t realize how hard the um covered lockdowns and the worry

About the war in ukraine and um you know here in the states we have a real big issue right now of um division in our country uh it’s really bad right now and i’m hoping that we can come out of that and just all get along um and now you know we got these other drug the diseases coming out you know with the monkey pox and inflation is really high and people are

Really worried and it was a really bad timing for me to get off the medication right now i should have waited and next time i will wait until um until things get better and if they don’t get better and i’ll just stay on the medication i would rather feel functional and normal and happy be an absolute ball of anxiety and stress so i would just want to finish

Off with some some side effects um the first time i got on it the side effects were really bad dry mouth is the one i had really bad um it didn’t make my vision blurry but it made me really cognizant of my um eye floaters if that makes sense so like i was really focused in on my eye floaters which i think everybody has those but for whatever reason it makes me

Focus in on those sexual side effects were um nothing too bad um for me i’d say it just lowers your libido a little bit for or at least for me for a few weeks and then after that it didn’t really bother me anymore the digestive side effects are probably the most common and i guess that’s because serotonin is mostly made in your gut so i had some bad diarrhea i

Still have some bad diarrhea and um some stomach pain and i think that’s it really for side effects for me um a lot of my anxiety comes from body stuff so you know if i wake up in the in the middle of the night my arm’s all numb because i’m sleeping on it weird that would cause anxiety um if i get like a weird muscle pain in my arm after i did a little bit of

Exercise without got some anxiety um my gut my gut stuff would cause anxiety because i worry you know is that just a side effect of the drug or is there something else going on so um but i’m hopeful that in the coming weeks i’m only back on three weeks but in the coming weeks i’ll be back to normal fully and i just want to ask that you guys share your experiences

Below or if you have any questions let me know on youtube almost every day um and i i like replying to people and seeing what they say so yeah that’s pretty much it i might do a follow-up email or a follow-up video in a couple weeks um to see if i get better or not but anyway have a very blessed time if you’re on these drugs please do not feel any shame

Transcribed from video
My 5 year journey on the SSRI antidepressant Citalopram (Celexa). Getting off and restarting. By Ricalloo