How Long Does Citalopram Stay in Your System? (A comprehensive guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at the question “How long does Citalopram stay in your system?” as well as other related queries like Citalopram side effects, Citalopram reviews and questions like how long do citalopram withdrawal symptoms last.

How Long Does Citalopram Stay in Your System?

Citalopram can stay in your system for about 35 to 45 hours, as the half life of citalopram is about 35 hours, which means that it takes approximately 35 hours for half the drug to leave your system.

Half life of a drug is the measure of when the drug stops being strong in your system, and it is usually what one refers to to understand how long something stays in your system.

According to most reports, it may take up to one week for citalopram to leave your system entirely, that is, about one week after your last dose, you may experience a return to your mental and physical state that you had before you started taking citalopram.

The fact that citalopram does not stay in your system for too long is a good thing, as this means that when the withdrawal symptoms happen, if they happen, that is, they won’t be too intense and they won’t start immediately after cessation of the drug.

If one does have withdrawal symptoms, they may start about 3-5 days after the person has stopped taking the drug, 

Additionally, they may last from about five days to about one month, which means that it may take about a month to wean off the drug in some cases, depending on your constitution.

Another thing to keep in mind when talking about measuring the antidepressant withdrawal duration is that because people’s experiences differ so much with regard to medication that affects the hormone structure in the brain, that it may become a difficult thing for researchers to measure.

Citalopram Side Effects

Citalopram side effects are fairly limited compared to many other antidepressants, but it may still cause a number of them, which are listed below:

  • Dry mouth 
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred vision 
  • Excessive yawning 
  • Easy bruising/bleeding.
  • Fainting
  • Fast/irregular heartbeat
  • Black stools
  • throw-up that looks like coffee grounds
  • Shaking (tremor)
  • Decreased interest in intimate activities
  • Changes in sexual ability
  • Seizures
  • Eye pain/swelling/redness
  • Widened pupils
  • Vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night).

The last 10 symptoms on this list of side effects can be very life threatening so if you are experiencing these, you need to go to the doctor right away.

If you are experiencing too many citalopram side effects, or if they are happening in a way that affects your daily life, make sure you talk to your doctor, and they might reduce or alter your dose.

Coming off Citalopram 10 mg

Coming off citalopram 10 mg might not be as bad as coming off citalopram 20 mg, which is a more intense dose, but it can still cause many withdrawal symptoms, and it needs to be done carefully.

To make sure the person is coming off citalopram 10 mg in the healthiest manner possible, the clinician needs to make sure that there is no abrupt discontinuation and stopping of the treatment with citalopram must be done gradually, with the dose reduced over a period of at least one to two weeks.

This causes the risk of withdrawal reactions to reduce greatly.

However, if when coming off citalopram 10 mg, someone experiences intolerable symptoms the clinical might recommend resuming the previously prescribed dose after which they may then start decreasing the dose, at an even more gradual rate.

The withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced when coming off citalopram 10 mg are:

  • Dizziness,
  • Sensory disturbances (including paraesthesia)
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sleep disturbances (including insomnia and intense dreams)
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Nausea and/or throwing-up
  • Tremor
  • Palpitations
  • Emotional instability
  • Irritability
  • Visual disturbances 

Citalopram Reviews

Here are some very comprehensive and extensive citalopram reviews to help you understand the drug a little better:

“For Generalized Anxiety Disorder: “I have been on this drug for YEARS. I am currently on 20mg daily. From what I remember when I first started taking it my only symptom was feeling tired, but I got used to it pretty quickly. I don’t have any side effects from it now. It does help with my anxiety and irritability. The only downfall it has is that if I forget a pill (I take it in the morning) I get sick as a dog with nausea and throwing-up. Other than that I totally recommend it, I feel like its one of the less intense mood meds out there.”

“Celexa (citalopram) for Depression: “I switched from Prozac to Celexa earlier this year thinking it would be more helpful than Prozac. I felt better for a short period of time and then it quit working. Now I have more anxiety than I first started with. I’m trying to wean off sleep meds but found that Celexa causes insomnia so how does that help? I’m beginning to have severe stomach issues that I think are related to the increased anxiety. I think I want to go back to Prozac. I didn’t have these kinds of issues.”

For Depression: “I have battled against depression all my adult life and finally caved in a few months ago. Went to the doctor and asked for help. This drug has made me realise just how bad I have been and wish I hadn’t waited till I was 53 to take something. Now on citalopram I feel great and positive and looking forward to the rest of my life. Still have a bad day every now and then but am now able to understand and accept the bad day and not want to run away and hide. Would tell anyone who feels they are struggling with life to see a doctor and let them help.”

Celexa (citalopram) for Anxiety and Stress: “I have been using celexa for a few weeks and I have seen a dramatic change in my anxiety and stress levels. Before taking this I would wake up every single morning in a state of panic and anxiety and since taking celexa I feel calm and alive again I can function. I feel like I finally have my life back. I feel like myself again. I feel soo wonderful!!!!!!!””

For Generalized Anxiety Disorder: “I was prescribed Citalopram for severe anxiety and intrusive thoughts. I have been taking them for 5 weeks, 1 week on 10mg and now 20mg. I am now starting to feel like myself again. The first 3 weeks were the hardest with increased anxiety, insomnia and night sweats. These have improved and my anxiety is 80% improved. I did what most people do and read all the reviews hoping that the positives were true. It’s important to give it time. It definitely wasn’t an overnight fix but for me it has worked.”

For Anxiety and Stress: “The Pro : I’ve been on 40mg citalopram for 8 years now. I can safely say, it’s done the trick. 95% of the time, my mood is great and my conditions are few and far between, friends and family have seen a huge difference. The Con: It’s weakened my stomach lining and I get heart burn quite often. Tend to run out of energy by 3pm’ish each day. If I miss more than 3 days, I’ll get extreme head pains and be dizzy (very unpleasant, set reminders). My Advice: It took my body around 5-6 months to adjust and actually work as intended, don’t expect it to be a magic pill that will fix you in a few weeks.. give it time to work. Expect some sort of side effect to appear at some point, the pro outweighs the cons hugely though! Keep your chin up :)”

For Depression: “Started on these 3 weeks ago after my mom passed away then a fall out with a family member I just felt so emotional all the time after realising I needed it. My GP put me at 20mg. I can honestly say I feel loads better + not so emotional I’ve been off work for 5 months but know I’m ready to return. Good luck all.”

“I feel Citalopram has not the same effect it used to have on me. It still revves me up, but mood-wise it does not seem to do much of anything. As I’m pretty good mood-wise at the moment (as most summers) but rather on the nervous side (I have my own wedding soon), I wanted to take lavender oil to calm me and I would rather not mix. Besides, if I decrease my dose, I might be calmer anyway. For me, it was always a fine line to take enough to lift me up and not so much that I got into “hectic headless chicken” mode (a bit like a constant caffeine burst).”

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we will look at the question “How long does Citalopram stay in your system?” as well as other related queries like Citalopram side effects, Citalopram reviews and questions like how long do citalopram withdrawal symptoms last.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How long does Citalopram stay in your system?

What happens when you stop taking citalopram?

If you stop taking citalopram, especially suddenly, withdrawal symptoms may happen, which may include: mood changes, irritability, agitation, anxiety, confusion, headache, tiredness, nausea, sweating, shaking, and difficulty falling asleep or staying awake, dizziness, numbness, tingling or electric shock-like sensations in the hands or feet.

How do I wean off citalopram 20 mg?

To wean off citalopram 20 mg, you should talk to your prescribing doctor about the best possible course, as they are best equipped to help you out in this situation.

They will likely ask you to follow either of the following schedules to wean off citalopram 20 mg: 20mg /day for one to two weeks and if you are still okay, you may have to alternate 20mg/day with 10mg/day for about two weeks. Then you might have your dosage lowered to about 10mg/day for two weeks, followed by 10mg every other day for one week.

How long after stopping citalopram will I feel normal?

You may start to feel normal about 3-6 days after stopping citalopram, as most people report this time period as a mean time period for them to start feeling normal again.

You may start feeling normal in the sense that you may not experience the side effects you may have been experiencing, but you may still experience symptoms for some time, like anywhere from five days to, and in some cases over, one month.

Citations

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/523/smpc#:~:text=Abrupt%20discontinuation%20should%20be%20avoided,and%20section%204.8%20Undesirable%20Effects).

https://www.verywellmind.com/celexa-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline-and-treatment-4771846#:~:text=Celexa%20has%20a%20half-life,to%20leave%20your%20system%2

https://deserthopetreatment.com/antidepressants/citalopram-celexa-addiction/long-term-side-effects/#:~:text=Seizures.-,Citalopram%27s%20Long-Term%20Effects,this%20substance%20for%209%20months.&text=Long-term%20use%20of%20antidepressants,rhythm%20abnormalities%20at%20higher%20doses.

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.