How to get off citalopram

Written by jennifer macphaden
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How to get off citalopram
Citalopram is an antidepressant also known as Celexa. (Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Citalopram is the generic name for Celexa, an antidepressant used to treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive and compulsive disorders. It works by altering the amount of serotonin in the brain. Each person will respond differently to stopping citalopram as serotonin levels decrease. Withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe and may include insomnia, stomach upset, dizziness, worsening of emotional symptoms, nervousness and irritability. With a little planning, time and support, you can successfully get off citalopram while reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Citalopram
  • Pill cutter

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  1. 1

    Select a time to begin getting off citalopram. If your career or personal life is very stressful, it may not be a good time to come off an antidepressant. Choosing a time in your life that has minimal stress will not only keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum, but will make success more likely.

  2. 2

    Call your doctor and make an appointment to discuss your decision to come off citalopram. Your withdrawal symptoms need to be medically supervised. Your doctor can review your medical history, and together you can determine if getting off antidepressant medication is the right choice.

    How to get off citalopram
    Talk to your doctor about your decision to stop taking your antidepressant. (doctor t image by Andrey Kiselev from
  3. 3

    Enlist the support of your family. Let them know you have made the decision to get off your antidepressant medication. Warn them about possible withdrawal symptoms so they can observe how you are acting, and offer support when you are feeling irritable.

  4. 4

    Gradually taper your dosage, as instructed by your doctor. This process should be done slowly to reduce any discomfort. Reduce your dose by a maximum of 5 per cent per week. A pill cutter will help you in meting out smaller doses over time.

  1. 1

    Determine the number of milligrams of citalopram you take daily. This information will be on your pill bottle.

  2. 2

    Divide the number of milligrams by 20. Example: 60 mg divided by 20 equals three. This is the number of milligrams you need to reduce per week to taper off citalopram slowly and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

  3. 3

    Calculate how many weeks it's going to take to get off citalopram. Divide the number of milligrams you take by the answer in Step 2. Using our example, 60 mg divided by 3 mg equals 20. It is going to take you 20 weeks, or five months, to taper off your antidepressant.

  4. 4

    Reduce your dosage every week by the number of milligrams determined in Step 2.

  5. 5

    Continue reducing your dosage until you are completely weaned off the medication.

Tips and warnings

  • If your pill cutter does not split your pill to the exact dosage required, note that taking more of your medication is better than taking less in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

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