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Antidepressants are medicines used to treat major depressive disorder, certain types of chronic pains, and anxiety disorders. In some cases, they can also help manage addiction. Although they are generally safe and effective, these medicines can be harmful if you misuse them. Due to strict rules and regulations, you cannot obtain antidepressants without a prescription from a healthcare advisor. However, some people may still abuse their medication by not following the directions accurately. Citalopram is among the drugs that many tend to misuse for multiple reasons.

 For instance, when you start taking this medicine, you have to check in with your doctor from time to time. The reason for regular follow-ups is to ensure you are not taking citalopram the wrong way or experiencing associated effects. Some people may feel they no longer need the medication either because they assume it is not working for them. Whatever the reason is, stopping citalopram cold turkey is not the way to end an antidepressant course. If you are considering coming off citalopram, consider that you may experience several side effects. Getting professional guidance is also mandatory during this process to prevent complications.

If you wish to know more about how to stop taking citalopram and its effects, continue reading this overview.

Citalopram belongs to the medicinal group known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. This group treats depression or other disorders by balancing the activity of serotonin in the brain. People with a prescription for citalopram can take it in powder, tablet, or solution form. Usually, the dose is set according to the person’s symptoms and condition. Your doctor can give you citalopram if you have the following signs:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Trouble in focusing
  • Low levels of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Distressful thoughts
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
  • Social isolation
  • Bad personal hygiene
  • Relationship problems
  • Psychomotor retardation and agitation
  • Suicidal ideation

Like other antidepressants, citalopram may take time to work and may cause several side effects. With the help of a healthcare provider, the negative impact is mostly manageable. Treatment with citalopram is effective if you follow all directions of use and get routine checkups.

Although most SSRI medications, including citalopram, are not physically addictive, getting off them may not be easy for some people. Difficulty in leaving antidepressants is typically a result of misuse and abuse. Citalopram withdrawal may occur when a person discontinues taking the medication. To avoid side effects, specialists recommend tapering off antidepressants over time rather than stopping altogether. If you are having citalopram withdrawal symptoms, you must consult a professional for advice. Side effects are not severe in cases where people stop taking medicine slowly. Usually, the citalopram withdrawal timeline begins within a week or two of reducing the dose and for a few weeks after stopping successfully. During this time, a person may experience mood swings, sleeping problems, fatigue, ringing in the ears, dizziness, body aches, and digestive issues. You can manage these effects by learning how to ease citalopram withdrawal from a healthcare provider. However, the symptoms, their severity, and how long they last may vary. Some after-effects may require immediate medical attention. Inform your doctor if you are having the following symptoms:

Self-medication

To relieve the side effects of citalopram, many people end up drinking or using other medications. If you are struggling with withdrawal, do not get caught up in habits that may cause an addiction. Secondly, do not use any medicines, including painkillers, without consultation. It is also possible to have a drug interaction if you are not careful. You may need to see a therapist or counsellor if you are using drugs, drinking, or have an urge to do anything similar.

Suicidal Ideation

Thinking about suicide is common in severe cases of depressive disorder, and it can occur during the withdrawal phase, especially after prolonged use of antidepressants. Though the chances of suicide ideation or suicide attempts are low with SSRIs, staying cautious is still better. This effect does not occur after a person discontinues citalopram or similar medications. You may think about suicide after a specific period, especially if you have other severe side effects.

Self-injury

If you are hurting yourself or participating in an activity that may lead to injury for any reason, it signals serious issues. Similarly, if you are inflicting injuries or thinking about doing so, you need immediate medical attention. It does not matter if the injuries are not serious or life-threatening, as it is still dangerous and may worsen over time.

Inability to Function Without Citalopram

Inability to function without citalopram means that you may have an addiction. Suppose you are consistently thinking about how to get the medicine after your course is over, or you have tried to obtain it without a prescription. In that case, it may signal an underlying issue.

If you are managing the side effects of stopping citalopram with professional advice, the chances of recovery are high. However, if you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms, especially after drug abuse, consider going to a therapist or a counsellor. As mentioned before, citalopram is not physically addictive, but many still use it because of its impact on depression. Sometimes, people may increase the dose without informing their doctors and become psychologically dependent. After psychological addiction, it is hard to discontinue the medicine.

You may feel like you need to take citalopram to function normally. Psychological addiction worsens mental health and affects social and professional life. You can become so preoccupied with the drug that you neglect your responsibilities, health, and relations. In such a situation, your doctor may recommend detoxification along with therapy.

Medical detox is a process that assists in getting rid of the drug from the body. Often, it is a fundamental part of recovery from addiction. You may have to use prescription medicines to manage withdrawal effects during this process. While it is effective, doing a detox by yourself is not recommended. You can either do it with help from a medical professional or join a rehabilitation facility. 

Along with a detox, therapies such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy help manage symptoms. Secondly, they may also reduce the chances of a relapse in people with severe addictions.

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