Bye, Celexa

**DISCLAIMER** This post is a summary of my personal experience while taking Celexa.  This is not intended to be a denunciation of Celexa or other SSRI medications.  Celexa and SSRIs have made life better for many people but I didn’t happen to be one of them.

Almost exactly 6 months ago, I talked to my GP about finding a medication to treat my persistent anxiety and bouts of depression.   After some discussion, the decision was made to start me on a low dose of Celexa (Citalopram) because it is reported to be more effective in treating general anxiety and panic disorder.  The dose was increased after 2 months to improve efficacy.

I was seeking to reduce what I call the “background noise” anxiety which is present nearly every day.  That noise may be a legitimate concern, or I may manufacture a point of worry, or I may experience a general “something is wrong” feeling that leaves my stomach in a knot and makes me somewhat frantic while trying to identify the source.  The end result is that I am often irritable or distracted and use alcohol or cannabis to relax or take my mind off my current worries.  The anxiety is sometimes accompanied by periods of melancholy or depression which I have also tended to treat with alcohol and cannabis.  After self-medicating for almost 20 years, I really wanted to take a healthier approach to improving my mental health.

EATINGMy decision to stop taking  citalopram was for 2 main reasons.  The primary reason was an insatiable urge to consume.  I was constantly eating and no amount of snacking made me feel satisfied.  Getting ready for bed usually meant a 15 minute rampage through the cabinets before hitting the sack.  Consequently, I put on 25 pounds in just a few months.  This has been very upsetting to me because I had lost 30 pounds in 2014 and now I can’t fit into any of my “skinny” clothes.  Every t-shirt feels tight and there are only 2 or 3 shirts left in my wardrobe in which I feel comfortable.  The overwhelming feeling of self-consciousness about my weight and appearance has a detrimental effect on my state of mind, even when I’m just at home with my girlfriend.

The second reason only manifested itself once it was recommended that I sexmehstep up from from a 10 mg dose to 20 mg.  Once I upped the dose, I lost almost all interest in sex.  On the rare occasion that I found myself in the mood, my performance was pretty lacking.  When added to the significant weight gain, the side effects no longer seemed to justify staying on the medication.  I stopped taking it completely.  I found out afterward that you’re supposed to step the dosage down or risk a crash, but I wanted it out of my system so bad that I just stopped.

Once the medication had a chance to leave my system, I discovered another downside to taking it.  I did not realized how emotionally flat I had become and how washed out and fatigued I had felt nearly all of the time.  As the days passed since my last dose, I felt more alive, energetic and happy.  The citalopram had done a good job of tuning out the “background noise,” but it had also muted the emotions that make life exciting and worth living.  I felt like a cloud of eternal meh-ness had been lifted.  The only remaining side effect at this point is my gut, and I’ll have to work like hell for the next few months to get rid of it.

Despite all of the negatives, I’m glad I tried it.  That first proactive step towards dealing with my anxiety led me to a lot of discussion with my therapist about how to deal with worry using healthy coping skills and a big dose of mindfulness.  I’m not inclined at this point to try other SSRIs or other types of anti-anxiety meds.  I know they work great for some people, but they didn’t do anything positive for me.

 

~ by schlippo on April 18, 2016.

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