Stopping Celexa can cause withdrawal symptoms, even if a person does it gradually. Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, anxiety, and insomnia.

Celexa (citalopram) is a drug that doctors commonly prescribe to treat depression.

Restarting Celexa may relieve withdrawal symptoms, but this might not be a desirable solution for many people.

Other methods to prevent and treat Celexa withdrawal symptoms include drug tapering, which refers to gradually reducing the dosage over a fixed period, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

In this article, we discuss the symptoms of Celexa withdrawal and how to treat them.

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Celexa is an antidepressant that belongs to the family of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Doctors often prescribe SSRIs to treat depression in adults.

Celexa contains the active ingredient citalopram, which works as an antidepressant by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Experts suggest that depression occurs when there are imbalances in chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Low serotonin in the brain may contribute to depressive symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved Celexa for the treatment of depression in adults. However, some doctors may prescribe the drug for other indications, such as:

All SSRIs can potentially cause a person to experience withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing the drug. However, not everyone will experience these symptoms.

Clinical studies on Celexa withdrawal have shown that symptoms typically appear within a few days of stopping the drug and last a few weeks before gradually improving.

While people are most likely to experience withdrawal symptoms after abruptly stopping SSRIs, these symptoms can sometimes also occur with gradual tapering.

However, doctors still recommend tapering off Celexa over a period of several weeks to several months, depending on how long a person has been taking it.

In some cases, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms that start later or last longer than usual. Due to this, doctors may misinterpret a return of depressive symptoms as Celexa withdrawal.

The symptoms that people most commonly report after stopping Celexa are dizziness, anxiety, and irritability.

Other signs and symptoms of SSRI withdrawal may include:

  • lightheadedness
  • vertigo
  • shock-like sensations
  • burning or prickling sensation in the hands, legs, feet, and other parts of the body
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • tremor
  • diarrhea
  • visual disturbances
  • insomnia

Some people also report hypersensitivity of the genitals and premature ejaculation.

In an article in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, researchers report three cases of people who experienced withdrawal symptoms from stopping Celexa.

All three participants had progressively lowered their dosage of Celexa before stopping the drug.

The symptoms of Celexa withdrawal appeared 1–5 days after completely stopping the drug, and they lasted between 1 week and 2 months.

People with Celexa withdrawal may need to speak with a doctor. The doctor may advise them to restart Celexa and gradually reduce their dosage.

They may also offer support for withdrawal symptoms, depending on the person’s experience.

Doctors sometimes recommend switching from Celexa to an SSRI with a longer half-life, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which is less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms.

Other strategies may include group CBT and well-being therapy.

Repots show that some babies who have had exposure to Celexa during the third trimester have developed complications requiring long hospital stays involving breathing support and tube feeding.

However, stopping Celexa during pregnancy can lead to withdrawal symptoms and, more significantly, a return of depressive symptoms.

As untreated depression can cause health concerns for both the baby and the pregnant person, doctors will need to weigh the benefits and risks of stopping Celexa during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Possible risks for the baby include:

  • prematurity
  • low birth weight
  • intrauterine growth restriction

Untreated depression during pregnancy can also affect the child’s development, potentially leading to:

  • higher impulsivity
  • dysfunctional social interactions
  • cognitive, behavioral, and emotional difficulties

It may also affect the pregnant person, putting them at higher risk of postpartum depression and suicidality.

Other associations include increased hospital admissions and preeclampsia. Pregnant people with untreated depression may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as:

  • smoking
  • illicit drug use
  • unhealthy alcohol use
  • poor nutrition

People experiencing Celexa withdrawal may need to speak with a doctor if the symptoms affect their everyday life.

The doctor can help them decide whether to restart Celexa or start a new SSRI with a lower risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Dealing with Celexa withdrawal may not always require restarting antidepressant therapy. In some cases, doctors may recommend psychotherapy.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or a return of severe depressive symptoms may need to call 911 for emergency help.

Some people experience prolonged periods of Celexa withdrawal symptoms.

For example, people using SSRIs for long-term treatment may experience persistent withdrawal symptoms on stopping. These can include:

  • disturbed mood
  • depression
  • emotional lability
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • impaired memory

Anyone experiencing prolonged Celexa withdrawal symptoms should speak with a doctor.

People who stop taking Celexa may experience withdrawal symptoms, particularly following long-term use of the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms can occur after suddenly or progressively stopping the drug. The symptoms of Celexa withdrawal and their intensity may vary from person to person.

People experiencing troubling Celexa withdrawal symptoms should speak with a doctor, who can help them find ways to manage the symptoms.

Severe depressive symptoms and suicidality require immediate medical attention.