Withdrawing From Celexa: Keep Calm And Carry Vegetables (Part 1)A few months ago, I started tapering down my dosage of Celexa.

I’d swallowed 30 mg each and every day for at least a year and a half, but not long ago, I decided it was time to stop. And it wasn’t because my anxiety was letting up — not in the least — but it was because I wanted to try and get pregnant before I ended up stealing one of the  many adorable babies that my close friends seem to be popping out these days.

Tick, tick, tock.


Earlier, I wrote about my first dosage cuts. Cutting down to 25 mg and then to 20 mg resulted in some withdrawal side effects, but they were mostly tolerable. Nothing to write home about, really.

I had high hopes.

I remained on 20 mg for a longer-than-usual period of time. Part of it was fear of the next dosage cut’s inevitable side effects — years ago, when I withdrew from a nasty little SSRI called Paxil, I quickly learned that the withdrawal effects became more pronounced the closer I got to zero milligrams.

Two Sundays ago, I decided to make the next cut — from 20 mg to 15 mg. I would have preferred a brief hiatus at 17.5 mg, but measuring out seven-eighths of a pinky nail-sized pill would be, frankly, a pain in the ass.

Armed with only a bottle of 20 mg pills, I whipped out the ol’ pill cutter from my Paxil-splitting days and got down to business playing amateur pharmacist. I split each pill in half and then in half again to make quarters worth 5 mg apiece. I swallowed three of them carefully — one less-than-gentle touch and they’d pulverize into white powder.


The first 24 hours went smoothly. No unusual side effects. Nothing out of the ordinary. I felt energetic and focused enough to start preparing for the class I’ll be teaching at the end of August.

Then, Tuesday rolled around. I had a dull migraine, the brain zaps, and a nebulous cloud of discomfort surrounding me. The muscles in my face felt tense. A wave of adrenaline periodically crashed down — hard — in my chest. (We’re not talking ebb and flow here; we’re talking, like, rip current shit.)

I credit — or blame — the adrenaline rushes for what followed.

It was Tuesday, and I was driving my car to pick up my CSA share — a box full of veggies from a local farmer — just across the bridge from where I live.

Easy. Close. A simple task.

Agoraphobically, I’ve never really had a problem with bridges before. (And, architecturally, I’m fascinated by them!)

But on that day, in the middle of this unremarkable concrete bridge, I felt a small twinge of fear brewing in the basement of my stomach. Something felt wrong — indescribably and uncomfortably wrong.

Can panic actually be a result of SSRI withdrawal and not necessarily a flare-up of my original condition? Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Photo: David Lenker


Like this blog? Join Panic About Anxiety on Facebook for regular updates!