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My experience with Citalopram

Citalopram is an antidepressant that helps reduce the symptoms associated with the psychological condition depression. Citalopram is considered one of the SSRIs. In this article you can read my Citalopram experience, both with increasing Citalopram and decreasing Citalopram. In November 2007 I was diagnosed with depression. I have both ‘normal’ depression and winter depression. Because winter was almost over, I did not receive any light therapy, but I have been taking an antidepressant called Citalopram since mid-January.

What is depression?

Depression is a type of depression that a person experiences. This depression should not be confused with a ‘normal dip’. Unlike a slump, depression does not go away on its own and the despondency is many times more intense. In addition, depression affects daily functioning.


According to the DSMIV (diagnosis manual), a person has depression if he or she meets the following criteria:To diagnose a major depressive episode, one or two of the following symptoms must be present:

  1. Depressed mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure

These two criteria must exclude the possibility that they are caused by a physical condition or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.A diagnosis is also possible when one has 1 of the 2 above symptoms and at least 4 of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood most of the day.
  • Marked decrease in interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Changing appetite and marked weight gain or weight loss.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns or insomnia or sleeping more than normal.
  • Changes in activity levels, restlessness, or moving significantly slower than normal.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day.
  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness, anxiety, and/or fear.
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions.
  • Thinking about death or suicide.

Finally, the following ‘requirements’ must be met:

  • The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important circumstances.
  • The symptoms are not the result of direct physiological effects of substance use (for example, drugs or medication) or a physical condition.
  • The symptoms cannot be explained better than by grief, for example after the loss of a loved one.
  • The symptoms last longer than two months or suicidal thoughts are strongly present.


Facts and fables

  • 1 in 7 people in the adult Dutch population will experience depression during their lifetime.
  • 6% of the Dutch population suffers from or has recently had depression
  • Depression can also occur in children and the elderly
  • Depression is not the same as a ‘burnout’
  • Depression often occurs in combination with anxiety disorders
  • Depression is twice as common in women than in men
  • Depression has a hereditary component
  • Low-educated people have a greater chance of depression
  • Traumatic childhood experiences do not increase the risk of depression
  • About 1 in 10 people with depression commit suicide


Treatment with Citalopram

Citalopram is an antidepressant. Citalopram is taken once a day, in the morning or in the evening. It should be kept in mind that Citalopram can slow down the reaction rate. Citalopram is available in pill and drop form. The pill form is most commonly prescribed. There are pills in different doses, the most commonly used dose is 20 mg. Another common name of Citalopram is Cipramil.


There are different types of antidepressants, each with a different effect. A distinction is made between the following types of antidepressants:

  1. Classic antidepressants (inhibition of reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine)
  2. Tetracyclic antidepressants
  3. SSRIs (inhibit serotonin reuptake)
  4. MAOIs (inhibit the enzymes that break down neurotransmitters)

A person has a kind of chemical substances in the brain that transmit messages to brain cells. These are called neurotransmitters. There are several neurotransmitters, each with its own specific function. The neurotransmitters that mainly focus on mood and emotion are serotonin and norepinephrine. Sometimes the transfer of neurotransmitters does not proceed optimally. In the case of depression, the neurotransmitters are broken down too quickly. Antidepressants ensure that the neurotransmitters either remain available longer because they are reabsorbed or slow down the breakdown process. In both ways the neurotransmitter remains available longer.In general, you will only notice an effect after about 2 to 4 weeks.

Side effects

  • In the beginning, the depressive feelings may intensify, but this will decrease after about two weeks
  • Nausea
  • Blockage
  • Drowsiness or insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating or shaking
  • Changed appetite
  • Fatigue

The side effects generally decrease or even disappear on their own.

My experience

The first week I took 10mg at a time, to gradually let my body get used to it. I started taking that pill in the morning, but it made me really tired. So tired that I ended up sleeping 4 hours in bed in the afternoon. No success, so I started taking it in the evening after a few days. After 1 week I started taking 20mg per day.Unfortunately I did have some side effects, but nothing serious. At first I felt very hungry and extremely tired. It seemed as if a layer of fatigue hung around me for the first 1.5 weeks or something. But fortunately that has gone away. I now wake up fairly active, I am quite active during the day, but I get really tired in the evening from around 8 p.m. Not mentally tired, but just tired from the day, so to speak. My right ear was also closed for a while and was ringing. In any case, it was an irritating feeling, because it also meant less. It went away after 2 weeks. I still have some trouble falling asleep. Especially if I have gone to the toilet during the night, it can really take fifteen minutes before I fall asleep again.I also have the feeling that my mood has become a bit more even. In any case, no more huge downward slides without reason. If I’m feeling grumpy now, there’s a reason, so to speak, that I can also point to.I now take 40 mg a day, and I think this dose suits me well. Fortunately, I did not become a zombie, as you often hear when using antidepressants, where your feelings level off, as it were. I can still feel emotions just fine, and since I started taking this medication I can also place them better.


Update October 2008

My dosage has now been increased to 40 mg per day.

Update January 26, 2009

As of today, I will be tapering off the Citalopram in consultation with the psychiatrist. For the next 2 months I will be taking 20 mg per day instead of 40 mg.

Update March 13, 2009

From today onwards, in consultation with the psychiatrist, I will take 10 mg per day. According to the psychiatrist, I could also stop completely immediately, but I have the time and so I chose to take 10 mg a day until I run out of pills.

Updated April 21, 2009

I have now been taking no medication at all for less than a week. I do have some vague complaints. Sometimes I feel as if I am temporarily “outside my body”. I then get dizzy and feel like time stands still for a second or two. Then it’s over again.

Updated May 6, 2009

The past two weeks have been quite intense! Several times a day I became so incredibly dizzy that I felt like I was going to pass out, which never happened. I felt like I stood still for a moment, literally and figuratively, and that the world just moved on. After a few seconds my life flew back into sync with ‘real life’, so to speak.

Updated May 22, 2009

I have now been medication-free for a month and I no longer have any side effects. My mood is also quite positive at the moment, although according to those around me I am a bit more irritable.

Update March 2014

Started taking Citalopram again 8 days ago, due to depressive complaints. I now take 10 mg a day, just before going to bed. Side effects that I now experience are a layer of fatigue, headache (especially at the end of the afternoon), difficulty urinating, a closed, somewhat painful right ear and difficulty falling asleep after going to the toilet at night. I also experience that “standing still of the surroundings” again every now and then. In terms of mood I don’t notice anything yet.

read more

  • Citalopram/Cipramil (SSRI): medicine for depression
  • Antidepressants: the different types and their effects