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I Did A Thing – The Celexa Tapering Diaries

I’ve been on antidepressants my entire adult life. In case you need to do the math, I’m currently 44 years old.
I’ve been on Zoloft, Prozac, Welbutrin and Celexa in various lengths of time since I was in my late teens/early 20’s. Celexa was the last one that I tried and I have been on it for about 20 years now. I started at 20mgs for depression and around 15 years ago or so I had a doctor up it to 40 mg when my anxiety started in.
A few years ago I weened myself down to 20 mg again, but soon after my mom had a stroke and I was back up to the full dose.
Over the many years I have taken this drug there have been countless times when I have forgotten to take it for a day. The day after I forgot, I would be so riddled with anger and/or sadness. Crying for no reason, snapping at my husband over stupid things and just feeling a rage that I couldn’t explain.
On those occasions it made me realize that I obviously still needed to be on the medication full force since I had such a poor reaction when I didn’t take it. I was going to have to take this little pill for the rest of my life.
Since my husband had his heart attack, I have been trying to take a more active role in my health. I’ve been to the doctor, gotten my blood work done for the first time in … well, possibly ever. I found out my cholesterol was high, but after a CT scan showed zero calcification in my arteries, my doctor didn’t feel the need to put me on a statin. We are trying to lower it naturally.
She said my liver and kidney numbers were good, but it got me thinking about the fact that I’ve been taking a pharmaceutical daily for the last 20 years.
I’m not really big on medication. I take Advil when I absolutely have to for my period cramps, but as a whole I try to avoid taking anything that isn’t all natural. I haven’t always been this way but more so than not over the last ten years when I started working for a holistic doctor.
Anyhoo, I didn’t like the idea that I would have to be a slave to this little oval pill for the rest of my life.
I discovered CBD oil and that had really helped control my anxiety. I slowly began to wonder if I could see about at least lowering my dosage of Celexa.
I did some research and found that quitting any kind of SSRI is not recommended. There is a something that can happened called Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome that is VERY unpleasant. Symptoms include but are not limited to:

Catatonia
Chills
Depersonalization
Diarrhea
Difficulty Walking
Dizziness
Fatigue
Headaches
Impaired concentration
Insomnia
Irritability
Lightheadedness
Muscle pain
Nausea/vomiting
Paresthesia
Psychosis
Shock-like sensations
Suicidal thoughts
Vertigo
Visual disturbances
Vivid dreams

I don’t know about you, but none of those sound very fun to me, but neither does having to take meds every single day.
But in my research, I also found out that what I thought I knew about my body and mind needing this medication as evidenced by my missing pills wasn’t necessarily true. I thought that because I felt so icky and mean and sad after skipping a pill meant that it showed how I would be in everyday life without it. What was really happening was that my body was experiencing a slight amount of Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome.
Was in possible that I could feel good without these pills..eventually?
So for shits and giggles on July 12 2018, I cut my daily dose of Celexa down from 40mg to 30mg.
I’m not sure what I expected. I figured the worst that could happen is that I would feel horrible and just go back up to my full dose.
What I felt was a little more emotional. Sort of like I was PMSing, but it wasn’t my time of the month yet. I was more likely to cry over sad songs, happy endings in movies and even seeing an animal run over on the side of the road.
If I’m remembering correctly, that lasted about two weeks or so before it sort of regulated itself.
To be safe I stayed at that dose for 7 weeks before tapering down to 20mg.
I really wish that I had kept a daily journal of how I felt every day, but I honestly never thought this would last. What I remember is more of the same. Being more susceptible to emotions, good or bad. Tearing up a lot.
I believe that my anxiety was up a bit at that point and I had been having heart palpitations. To be fair I have been having them off and on all along. I was and am on a Keto diet and was when I was low on electrolytes I would get heart palpitations.
About four weeks into the 20 mg dosage, I started magnesium supplementation and that really helped with both the anxiety and the palpitations. Turns out most people are deficient in Magnesium, but that is a whole other blog.
I stayed on this taper for 8 weeks before cutting it down to 10 mg. That was on November 1st. I’ve been at that dose 8 days as of this writing.
Once again I began to feel more emotional during this taper. About the same level as both tapers before. If memory serves, the amplified emotions only last about two weeks or so. We’ll see if it goes longer this time. I’ve never been as low as 10 mg on Celexa before. Ever. I started at 20 and have always been at that or more often than not 40.
My plan is to stay at this level for another 7 or 8 weeks as long as I feel okay and then taper down to 5 mg.
Also in case anyone is wondering, I have cleared this with my doctor. I’m not officially doing it under her “supervision” but she knows that I am tapering and has told me that as long as I feel okay after 6 weeks I should be able to start another taper.
I will check in with her when I am ready to get started on the 5 mg taper because I will need to get a new prescription at that point for some 10 mg pills that I can half. I am still working with the 40 mg pills right now. I half them twice, but since they are oval it will not be possible for me to get an accurate 5 mg dosage out of the pills at that point.
The last couple of nights I did have a hard time getting to sleep, but once I did fall asleep I slept fine. Last night I finally got a good nights sleep and I feel really good today.
Not sure if the sleep thing is related to the most recent taper or not.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the progress. I do wish I had done some research much earlier, but there is nothing I can do about that now.
There is something so freeing about seeing a light at the end of the tunnel of medication that I assumed I was going to have to take for the rest of my life.
It makes me so happy at the thought of not having to take a drug every day to stabilize my mood.
I’ll try and keep better notes during the rest of this experiment and keep you updated.

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About Me

 

I am a 40 something married woman living in California.
I enjoy knitting and crocheting, watching crap movies, snuggling with my two adorable dogs and trying to be a good person.

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