The People's Perspective on Medicine

Citalopram (Celexa) Escitalopram (Lexapro) & Tinnitus

Medications can sometimes trigger tinnitus, a constant or chronic noise that others cannot hear. One reader developed tinnitus on Celexa.
Bald senior man plugging his ears isolated on white background

Tinnitus, an annoying and often constant or near-constant sound that nobody else can hear, drives many sufferers crazy. An estimated 30 million people cope with this debilitating and invisible condition. Sometimes damage to the eardrum from excessive noise is the apparent cause of tinnitus. For other individuals, the culprit is prescription medication. Even aspirin and quinine are known to induce tinnitus in some people.

Citalopram (Celexa) and Tinnitus:

Q. I developed tinnitus about 1 year ago. I do not have any type of hearing loss which would have contributed to my ringing in the ears. The only lifestyle event which I can attribute to my tinnitus is the drug citalopram (Celexa), which my doctor prescribed to me for depression.

Since tinnitus is now believed to be in the brain, it would make sense that this drug would be the common denominator. My tinnitus is 24/7. I have been very disappointed with ENT’s [ear nose & throat doctors] and their concern with my tinnitus. I actually received better treatment and information from my neurologist than from my ENT.

My question: has there been a link to drugs, such as citalopram, which have contributed to tinnitus? Also, I have now resorted to eastern medicine, such as acupuncture. Has anyone had positive results?
I am totally desperate for help!

A. This was the first we heard of a link between the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa) and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). We went to the medical literature and could find very little linking antidepressant medications like citalopram and ringing in the ears. In fact, doctors have actually tried treating tinnitus with such medications.

We didn’t give up, though. We did a little more searching and found this side effect buried in the official prescribing information. It was listed as “infrequent.”

So, the drug company lists tinnitus as an uncommon side effect of citalopram. And the medical literature is not very helpful in determining how rare this complication is. You are not the only person to suffer. Here is another report:

I developed screaming high-pitched tinnitus after I had been taking escitalopram (Lexapro) for 10 days. I was given samples by a nurse practitioner (NP) without any drug information or leaflet that the pharmacy usually provides.

I was not taking any other meds at the time. Asked my NP if Lexapro was causing the tinnitus & her reply was “No, she had no other patients that had complained of this side effect.” She told me to keep taking the drug.

I did and the tinnitus increased in volume & eventually was in both ears. I had to become my own advocate and found out from a pharmacist that Lexapro can cause severe, persistent ringing in the ears. I stopped taking Lexapro 19 months ago and I have been suffering with this condition ever since. I tried acupuncture & herbal therapy but it did not help.

Thank you for your post; your situation is exactly like mine. I was given citalopram by my doctor, and then I experienced the exact same results. I feel my tinnitus was caused by this drug. I have also tried acupuncture and other supplements which I have researched. My concern is that doctors and makers of citalopram should be aware of this side effect and look for the root cause.

My ENT dismissed this when I first brought up the relationship between the drug and tinnitus. I would really like to know who we could reach out to and have this link followed up.

It is hard for The People’s Pharmacy to determine if tinnitus is incredibly rare…or a side effect that has been overlooked by the medical community, the drug companies and the FDA. Here is one complication of such drugs that can no longer be ignored:

Citalopram Withdrawal:

I was on citalopram for 10 weeks and came off them cold turkey with some terrible withdrawal symptoms. I am still experiencing some brain shivers and funny sensations, although they are becoming further apart. They are still distressing and leave me exhausted.

Has anyone else had withdrawal symptoms for this period of time, and how long they can last?

The People’s Pharmacy has become a community of people who have also experienced difficult withdrawal symptoms after stopping an antidepressant medication like citalopram or sertraline. We have written about this issue in greater detail here and here.

There is one other side effect associated with many antidepressants that was ignored for years. Now it is recognized as a common complaint, but initially it was dismissed by many prescribers.

Escitalopram (Lexapro) and Sex:

I was on Lexapro (escitalopram) in my early 20s. It worked well but killed my sex drive. Job/life changes and my insurance didn’t cover Lexapro, so I was put on citalopram. It never really helped but it kept me stable and I would notice a change if I missed a dose but still had feelings of sadness and depression.

Now I’m on generic Zoloft (sertraline) because my new insurance doesn’t cover Lexapro. At first, it was great, but now the usual side effects have begun.

ESCITALOPRAM (LEXAPRO) SIDE EFFECTS

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue/Tiredness/lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Lowered libido
  • Ejaculation difficulties
  • Impotence
  • Lack of orgasm
  • Tinnitus (rare)

CITALOPRAM (CELEXA) SIDE EFFECTS

  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue/tiredness/lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lowered libido
  • Runny nose/cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Ejaculation difficulties
  • Impotence
  • Lack of orgasm
  • Tinnitus (rare)

You can learn about the top screw-ups that are made in treating depression in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. You can also learn more about other options for treating depression in our guide Dealing With Depression.

Revised 12/15/2016

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Just want to share my experience – After taking Lexapro 10mg (generic) for 10 yrs, I came across a comment stated on here,”brain shivers and funny sensations”. This describes my symptoms when missing two doses (like on weekend) or a few times when I tried to slowly decrease (by doctor’s orders).

Hello everybody,

Can anyone tell me if the tinnitus lessened or went away with time? Or is it permanent?
Best wishes

I have tinnitus since I took the first dose of Citalopram. I stopped the medication after 7 days. The tinnitus is loud 24/7 and persistent. It has been 7 years now and I have learned to live with it. All signs of depression were long gone but tinnitus never.

Started taking Escitalopram 5mg on Thursday as given by doctor for stress and trouble sleeping. Three or four days into drug woke up with ringing in ears which went away after about 1 hour. On Friday 1 week in woke up with ringing in ears which has not gone away as of Sunday. Stopped taking drug that Friday and pray ringing goes away. Have more stress now than ever before. Waiting till Monday to go back to doctors office.

Please follow up and tell us …is the ringing still there .
I have the same problem ..
Need hope ..

I began taking Lexapro about 13-14 years ago. Was later switched to citalopram. Really had no trouble except low libido. I decided to stop for probably the 3rd time (worried about Alzheimer’s and wanting to get off all men’s) and weaned off from May-July 2016. I had read that I may experience ear ringing and insomnia but thought, not me. Well, the insomnia is horrible and the ringing is nearly unbearable. Saw an ENT and I do have a hearing loss, but he thinks the ringing was there, just masked by the antidepressant. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe the antidepressant has changed my brain and I honestly do not know what to do about the noise. It was very difficult to get off the citalopram and I hate to start again but am even more afraid that the noise will continue even if I try taking it again. At a loss as to what to do. Very depressing!!!

I have been searching the internet to see if anyone found that Lexapro ACTUALLY stopped the ringing in my ears and have not found anything other then it CAUSES the problem. I am totally confused by this but I am 100% positive that the Lexapro stops the ringing. I have had this problem for 5 years the screeching is in both ears and is very severe. I always feel my head is in a state of confusion from the non stop noise. I was prescribed Lexapro for depression and never thought it would actually help the screeching but by the first day of taking the Lexapro the screeching stops. I go off and on the Lexapro so I am aware that it is the Lexapro that helps my ears. Does anyone else find this to be true?

Lexapro is ototoxic. Your ears will be damaged forever. I lost my job because of it and I cannot even find another job or learn anything because the noise is so loud. My tinnitus sounds like a school bell ringing.

I started Escitalopram about 4 months ago. My ringing in my ears started about 4 months ago. Last 3 weeks the ringing has gotten so extremely loud I feel like I am going crazy. I didn’t put the 2 together until 4 days ago.

I instantly stopped the 10mg Escitalopram. I don’t feel I should be off of it for my depression but the ringing is FAR FAR FAR worse. Now I am terrified it won’t go away as I have read everyones comments. I do have dizziness with it when the ringing is soooo loud it is louder than people talking or the TV. :(

Hi Debbie,
Exactly the same thing has happened to me. Did your ringing ever stop? I have had it for nearly a year now with no sign of it going away.

I, too, experienced the Lexapro connection with tinnitus which I have had for years as I have taken Lexapro for years. I was consulting with my GP recently and he asked me how often I take the Lexapro. Since he told me that Lexapro does not work if taken every other day I resumed taking it daily. Both of my ears have been ringing off the walls ever since. I had previously associated the tinnitus with my use of Ambien which, I think, is also connected with tinnitus.

Have had Tinnitus for years. I take none of the above drugs. Occasionally the Tinnitus stops momentarily with the sound of SILENCE. Only last for a few seconds.

I am 76years old, and developed an occasional tinnitus a couple of years back. I am not on any of the drugs that have been mentioned here, and my tinnitus is like a background hissing at a low volume. What causes tinnitus like this and what could I do to stop it?

Probably the best treatment is special custom-designed music therapy. Here is a link to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27979609

I have had tinnitus for many years. I lost hearing in my left ear, I was told by my ENT doctor it was as a result of the brain compensating for the hearing loss. I had a stapedectomy on that ear, my doctor assured me the tinnitus would subside after the surgery. I had the surgery and I did regain hearing but the tinnitus remains. I also have MS and take a number of different medications, I often wonder if one or more of these medications contribute to the tinnitus.

I was prescribed 10 mg of lexapro by my psychiatrist and was so reluctant to take any anti depressant but felt i really had no choice as living with the depression was becoming unbearable. I asked the Dr about side effects and there was certainly no mention of tinnitus. On day one I took only 2.5 mg trying to start slow on the lexapro..day 2 i took 2.5 mg, day 3 i took 5 mg and by day 4 I had a hissing sound in my right ear. I will not take this poison ever again, it is bad enough to deal with depression then to have tinnitus on top of that. Had i not googled any connection between antidepressants and tinnitus, I would have remained in the dark as the so called professionals seem to have no clue or do not disclose ALL the possible side effects. I have read countless comments of people who are now dealing with this issue and feel for every single one of them.

I take 5 mg escitalopram and ear ringing high pitched intense stared within 10 days.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have asked my doctor to take me off Escitalopram the first time I experienced ringing.

I still have a slight ring in my left ear that I believe was caused by Escitalopram. I no longer take the medication, but the ringing started when we increased the dose of Escitalopram.

So, the ringing didn’t go away when we decreased the dose. And it didn’t go away when we discontinued the medication a couple of years ago.

I also have ringing 24/7 in my ears . I have been taking Citalopram (celexa) for 6 months with that being the only side effect.

Just read threads. I was prescribed citalopram in 2006 and thought it had an effect on my tinnitus but I was under so much severe stress did not make connection. Weaned myself off it in 2009.

Under similar stress levels again in 2016. Within a week of taking citalopram the noise in my ears was unbearable even on 10 mg dose. I think this symptom needs taking seriously that this drug has the potential to cause serious damaging ever lasting tinnitus.

Update: I still have the same faint ring in one ear and some hearing loss in the upper range (confirmed by an “official” audiological/hearing test. The audiologist doubted the connection to the Lexapro side effect. I know better. The Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor doubted the connection, as well. But they had no other explanation. To remind folks, my tinnitus started when my dose was upped. Unfortunately, it didn’t go away even though we backed off within a few days.

I count myself lucky, though. I only notice the ringing and low hiss when I’m in a very quiet room or before bed. It doesn’t disrupt my normal sleep routine. My best to you all and thanks for posting.

This is Darlene again, I forgot to add one more symptom I was having. I have laryangospasms, and asthma. I noticed while on the Lexapro I started getting out of breath really bad to where I had to stop my daily walks. I can now walk again. I do have side effects from the Lexapro but feel better that I’ve stopped taking it. I won’t take it again.

Hello, I just came across this site while looking up side effects of Lexapro. I have been on Lexapro for a year and a half. I decided to stop taking it because I read where it can cause weight gain, since I started this medication a year and a half ago I’ve gained almost 30 plus pounds. I also read where ringing in the ears is a rare side effect, I’ve got that also. I have always had excellent hearing but since I started this medication my Dr. recommended for me to take because my one year old granddaughter was moving away and I watched her since birth.

I’ve mentioned my problems to my ENT and Dr. But they kind of ignored my concern. I decided to stop the Lexapro on my own to see if it was causing these problems. Well, I still have then ringing in the ears but do not eat as much, that part feels better already. I’m guessing the ringing will stay. Withdraw, I have shaky head/ brain feeling from stopping the Lexapro, kind of feels weird and wrong. Hoping this goes away. I will be moving where my granddaughter is soon, I feel fine but very unhappy with the withdraw feelings and my ringing in ears. Thank you

could10 mg of celexa cause ringing in ear after 8 hours

I was prescribed escitalopram (Lexapro). When we went from 15mg/day up to 20mg/day, I started to notice a high pitched ringing in my ears. When we reduced back down to 10mg after only a couple of days, the ringing disappeared.

Of interestest, I tried the 15mg dose at a later date, which unfortunately induced the ringing again. Only this time, when I reduced back to 10mg, the ringing remained. I have been completely off escitalopram for well over a year, but I still get faint ringing in my ears on a fairly regular basis.

Is this all coincidence? It doesn’t seem like it to me. Prior to the escitalopram, I had never had any issue whatsoever with ringing in my ears.

I have never taken legally prescribed drugs by themselves and as directed but I recently was prescribed Celexa and been taking it for a month. I was wondering why I kept hearing really high pitched noises that it seemed no one else could hear. I thought maybe I had special hearing senses similar to a dog LOL. My friends say that it’s funny that all of a sudden I start talking loudly and rushing around demanding to figure out what the noise is and to make it stop. Usually it’s something that’s not loud to anyone else, like the running water in the sink or the microwave in the other room. Glad I found this article and now I’m not stressed that I’m loosing my hearing.

Me too… Very similar story. Went to a doctor actually started ringing first pill..Citalipram. Went back to doctor.. Doctor said I had to be a man there were going to be side effects…Blow to the ego. Took it for another two weeks or so , ears never stopped ringing… Feels like the big machine didn’t care if they ruined another persons life….Didn’t realize that the ringing would be permanent..
Thanks for nothing citalopram….. Go to the country club and laugh with Biffy about your millions.. I would love to tell you what I’d like to do too you…

Wish id read this sooner dude. Ive had mild tinnitus for years from loud machinery but after taking citalopram just three times my tinnitus has gone off the chain! Ive now also got a constant wurring sound in my left year thats driving me mad!

I’m 50. I was on Celexa for two years. Two weeks after I stopped it completely (tapered slowly over several weeks), I developed tinnitus. That was about seven or eight years ago, and it has been pretty constant 12-13khz like cicadas. Antibiotics and lack of sleep make it worse. Some days I don’t notice it much and some days it’s horrible.

It’s possible that noise damage eventually got to me as I did put my time in as an audio engineer. But it’s a bit of a coincidence regarding ending the celexa. It’s possible that the celexa was even masking it, but I won’t ever go back on that stuff.

Hi , have the Drs. Told you it won’t go away? I had the ringing while I was taking Lexapro, and terrible weight gain. Now that I quit taking it just in a week I have a shaky Brain feeling, very weird feeling.

The problems that I have is the people that are have all these SSRI MEDS expect to much from a pill. I am 78 and came down with tinnitus a year and a half ago. It takes determination and training plus exercise and diet to improve your life. I’m amazed by the reckless use of drugs by both the patients and doctors. I’ve tried MANY different ones and would like to find the right combination. Presently I’m taking Celexa and Lorazepam, any suggestions????

I have not read every post about this because they are extensive but I would like to make a couple comments:

I have been on SSRI antidepressants for 15 years. I wish I never would have started them. Yes, tinnitus and pinging sounds are actually pretty common with these meds. I have had both since a week or so after my first dose of sertraline. I get really annoyed that so many physicians and nurses write an SSRI prescription at the drop of a hat. Having taken these drugs (both sertraline and celexa) for an extended period I can tell you that they are far from harmless. They have many unlisted side effects. It is almost impossible to get off them if you have taken them for a year or more. Believe me, I have tried. What started out as a diagnosis of mild but chronic depression is now uncontrollable rage and suicidal thoughts when off the medicine.

I am currently weaning off again (my second try). I have gone from 100mg to 40mg of sertraline and that has taken me one year. It will probably take me 6 more months to get off the last 40mg. SSRI medicine has ruined my ability to enjoy sex. Also I cannot get pain relief from prescribed meds. These happened after SSRI’s and were never an issue before. I would just like to warn people that “in my opinion” unless you are completely crippled by depression do not take these meds.

Go on line and find a “Tinnitus Retraining” audiologist, it really worked for me. It trains your brain to help ignore the sound. I had tinnitus 24/7 but now I only have it twice a week, and I know it will be gone the next day. Rose

I hope you will still comment to me even though this was an old post for this time. I went on Lexapro because my stomach was a mess and my doctor thought it was anxiety problems (it was not I had a preulcerative condition). This was back in early December 2013.
I had read that Lexapro had some side effects and was leery of taking it but several people told me that due to so much stress in my life and some back to back grief situations that I should just take it and feel better. So – like an idiot – I did for about 2 1/2 weeks.
After 10 days I called and complained to the doctor about the awful ringing in my ears. I was afraid to dose myself off it but he said go ahead that I hadn’t been on it long enough to have withdrawal. I cut them in half for another week and then quit. The ringing stopped and I felt good through Christmas and up until about January 15th. Then I got sick. Pressure and pain ripping through my right ear and jaw. Ringing in both ears and have been told it is Meniere’s.
It might be, but I believe it all goes back to Lexapro. I have some non-nerve deafness but very slight according to the audiologist. But it could be worse. I am drinking tons of water and avoiding salt but not only do I have this awful ear thing (getting worse) but I think I am having anxiety that could be related to delayed withdrawal symptoms. Can you give me any information about how this plays out over time? Hope it is positive information. I am already afraid.

I think that the drug companies are under reporting and not doing adequate studies showing the casual relationship between celexa / citaloprim and tinnitus. I was on citaloprim for over a year – went off the pill and several months later went back on 20mg daily. I have ringing in my ear – an ear nose throat specialist said that I could expect to get tinnitus at around 72 years of age. I’m 49, in good health, take no other medications, do not drink more than 1 beer a month, don’t smoke, don’t listen to loud sounds, and exercise 3 times a week.
The common denomination between me and everyone else complaining of tinnitus is the taking of celexa daily.
I have no doubt that the percentage of people suffering tinnitus from taking celexa is many times higher than the 2% number floating on the internet.
What does it take for the pharmaceutical companies to actually do some real research on this issue? If one stops taking the celexa does the tinnitus go away or is it permanent? What other SSRI treatment can be used in place of celebs for those suffering from tinnitus?
The first step in solving the problem is an honest commitment to studying the tinnitus complaints by the offending pharmaceutical manufacturers.

I took citalopram for 3 days and developed fierce ringing in my ear which I still have and also loss of hearing in that ear and also the other ear which is less severe. There is no cure that I am aware of and continue to research almost daily.
I did not get informed consent. Big pharma has hidden this horrible side effect and rarely list it so physicians are usually not aware of the huge numbers of us who have been affected assuming that it is rare. Seldom reported by physicians, whether specialists or not.
I can’t believe that I have to suffer this screeching in my head/ears for the rest of my life. There is no excuse for this.

I started taking citalopram about 5 months ago. After two weeks the tinnitus started. I stopped the antidepressant about 3 months ago but still have the tinnitus.

Lexapro is definitely causing me to have tinnitus. Doctors do not know that this is possible since it is such a minor and uncommon side effect. It is so bad that I am going to try another anti- depressant and hope the ringing will go away. This is very frustrating.

Hi Lisa, did it eventually go away after changing AD ?

Hi there
I have never had tinnitus in my life but recently went on citalopram, the side effects were so strong that after 3 weeks I have come off them, its only been 4 days and I feel better but I definitely still have loud ringing in my ears. I do hope this will eventually wear off but if anything it feels like it’s got worse not better.
If it’s a permanent side effect this really needs to be flagged up as I know I would never have taken any tablet if I thought there would have been a permanent side effect involved.

Hi Nali, it’s been a while now. Did the T eventually wear off ?

Reading all comments is eye opening. I have otosclerosis in both ears. Had surgery on the left ear after many years of monitoring progressive hearing loss thinking that would be the perfect fix and I wouldn’t have to wear a hearing aid. My hearing was great after surgery. Within a year the bone the prosthesis was attached to broke and left me deaf in that ear. Second surgery on that same ear was not quite as successful but I gained some hearing back, esp. with use of hearing aid.
Right ear (my good ear) began to lose hearing so am now wearing two aids. In the past two months, tinnitus has been unbearable in left ear. Trip to Dr. (ENT Surgeon) indicates my word discrimination has fallen from 76% to 16-20% in that ear. He will not attempt surgery for fear of causing vertigo, and surgery will not help the tinnitus and definitely will not do surgery on the right one.
Have ordered new hearing aids hoping to get better hearing in the right ear. Like others, am on a generic for Lexapro but had not thought it the cause of noise in the left ear. I was thinking it has something to do with the movement of the prosthesis. Traveling to and from higher altitudes really effects my hearing and I have grandchildren east and west in mountainous areas. I don’t know where or what to do next. This is very depressing.

It’s a relief to read this thread. I do think there may be a link between citalopram and audible phenomena. I have started taking citalopram on 2 occasions from no medication and for me each time I’ve experienced a low-pitched humming along with tingling/numbness in fingers and toes. Also difficulty sleeping in the first few days, waking up at 4am with the above sensations. Not unpleasant and the humming sound usually goes before the first week on the meds is done

It is now a year since my last post; not taking any citalopram, still have a lot of tinnitus. It seems to be louder when I am in more silent situations. Distraction definitely can make a difference. When I am suffering with more physical distress, the noise is worse. Right now I am five days from knee replacement surgery, have a very swollen leg and am finding trying to do the exercises that are an important part of my recovery, almost impossible.
The noise in my head is a symphony. I also experience that feeling of being almost able to hear a conversation in the noise. More so when I am trying to go to sleep. However, I am on a boatload of medications right now, not only hydrocodone, which someone else mentioned, but a fentanyl patch, to help with sleep, and sleeping pills, generic xanax or ambien, which knock me out for about eight hours, no pain sensations, no tinnitus. Plus I do notice some hearing loss.
Firstly, I cannot comprehend what I am hearing, possibly because of the meds mentioned above, and, secondly, I cannot hear well enough to understand what is being said. When the speaker slows down and raises his/her voice, the tinnitus does not interfere with my ability to hear and comprehend.
I am now 75, we grew up being told to speak clearly, slowly and distinctly. Speech was a mandatory course while in high school and I also was in a year and a half of college level speech remedial courses. Heavy NY accent. The generations below mine speak as tho they must get as many words out in as short a time as possible. Forget about being taught to speak clearly! I have a friend who has to play a voice mail from her granddaughter over and over again to catch at least half of what is being said.
Years ago I began telling people to speak slower, now I also tell them to talk louder. Asking for what is needed is really helpful, makes the tinnitus simply annoying rather than an interference that precludes hearing a conversation. And, now, with the internet, reading is the method used for communication, on the whole, and, for me, means the tinnitus does not rule me.

Hi I too am suffering from TINNITUS and I have been on celexa for about 10 years for anxiety. This Jan/February starting having issues with my right ear, static, sizzling noise. I seen my internist who of course treated me with antibiotics steroids and referred me to the ENT. The ENT referred me to a ear Specialists, who mentioned my med could be the problem. Has anyone took the med this long and then started suffering? I started acupuncture, reflexology and chiro treatments which has taken the noise level down and not a frequent. Are they any solution for us???

I’ve had tinnitus for 6 years now and I find that salt makes it louder.

@John D.K.
Thank you for your comment. I totally agree that the psychosomatic component is a crucial factor in these cases. I realize that there are “good days” where I feel more relaxed and less anxious and subsequently I perceive the “noise” as less intense and annoying. However the symptom does not subside and comes back with a vengeance no matter what when I try to go to sleep or when I have to deal with stress at work. Again this adds to the initial frustration and makes it pretty damn difficult for me to believe that this is only an obsession (I’ve had experience with tons of psychosomatic symptoms before, so yes, I am somehow predisposed to that kind of crap… but this feels like something totally different). I have been dealing with this for 7 weeks now. I am far from reaching a level of acceptance but at least I feel that my anxiety and depression are starting to clear a bit.
So in your case: How are you feeling today? Did the “buzzing” go away completely? (or at least return back to the initial level that you had before?). Have you tried anything else besides just “ignoring” it that you can recommend? Are you still on Celexa or did you taper it off?
Thanks in advance,
m

All of the comments regarding the hearing issues and Celexa I’ve found to be very interested! I recently read John D.K.’s explanation, and I totally agree with his assessment! I sleep with noise anyway because I also suffer from PTSD. A low radio playing @ night or the TV turned down to a low volume is all I need to change my focus. I cannot sleep without the TV anyway because I can’t be in the dark or silence.
I agree that I have a certain degree of control over it – mind over matter, and in my case, lots of distractions!!

I have been taking Celexa since January 2013 (2.5 months). I increased the dose to 40mg and noticed a slight tinnitus in the quiet of my room. It was like my ears were exposed to load music and were still humming. I play guitar so I am used to this phenomenon, but I didn’t expect it after a quiet evening. I suspected the Celexa and started googling and read the horror stories on forums like this.
The next thing I know it was getting louder and louder. I could hear it even while driving my loud car. I was so upset that my doctor prescribed an ototoxic medication and destroyed my hearing. Luckily I came across the website below which calls BS on the idea that this is ear damage. The real problem is that I was obsessing about it and focusing the “noise”. My mind became a “noise” amplifier. A textbook case of psychosomatic phenomenon. The same reason people can’t fly or leave the house without breaking into hives.
I decided to ignore the “noise” and it goes away. Mind you, the Celexa did increase sensitivity to the “low level tinnitus” that I already had. I believe all people have this “noise” and everybody will notice it if they were placed in a “sound proof” room. The problem comes when you perceive it as ear damage reinforced by horror stories that you must live the rest of your life with a locomotive in your head. If you think about it most of the people who experience the Celexa/Tinnitus connection most likely already have a history of obsessing over mental things and experience physical anxiety as a result.
The biggest problem is the erroneous belief that this will never go away which is promoted by “support forums” or rather “reinforcement of the problem forums”. People travel the world to find a cure. Heck even William Shatner talks about his problem like it is a serious disease. I call BS on that. I took me a week to get smart. It was also a good lesson to be weary of information on the web.

Has anyone here who got tinnitus caused by antidepressants experienced any improvement over time? Is this only a temporary effect or is this permanent? I’ve been having trouble after discontinuing citalopram now for over 5 weeks in a row. I have had good days, where masking and ignoring the noise is easy but this is totally subjective. I still wake up every morning with this annoying tinnitus. Probably the best strategy is trying to cope with it and minimizing the related anxiety. But knowing that there are cases where this symptom dissolved over time could help this process a lot.

I have had tinnitus continuously for four years since standing right next to a loud speaker for 20 minutes. My family insisted that because I worry about everything that I should go on Lexapro because it has helped them a lot. My doctor prescribed it, so I took it once before bed last night and I woke up at 2 am and my ringing was worse.
I am not taking it again after reading all the posts. My problem is that almost everything now makes my ringing worse. Talking (specially on the phone), music, any loud sounds. For sure I do not need anything to make it worse.

I was recently prescribed Celexa and I immediately began the symptoms of ringing in the ears. However, this medication worked and helped me enough that I’m willing to over look the ringing noise. I do agree that because I know that’s exactly when it started that it was definitely caused by this medication.

Hi Helen
I really feel for you as I am also suffering from tinnitus, which makes me feel really depressed. I have down loaded an app called sleep bug which is a free app. I listen to the natural sounds at night and put the iPad under my pillow. When I wake in the morning I listen for the tinnitus which I know is the wrong thing to do as then I am tuned into it good and proper. Wish someone could explain to me how to stop listening to the tinnitus as I find this the hardest thing to do. Where is the help for us suffering like this? I had tinnitus before taking citalopram but the tinnitus appears to have got louder, or is it me that is making it louder by constantly listening for it. Don’t know the answer to it all!! Just wish I did.
Let me know how you are.
belle

Hi Alon, how did the T eventually go for you ?

yes, I have been off lexapro 7 months. Doctor did not tell me to taper and I did not get any information about it. Came off cold turkey, not knowing better and have had and still having so many problems. Some days I think I will die. Very weak, head hurts all time, depressed, anxiety, ears hurt and burn. Can’t sleep. Tingling in feet and hands. Numbness. Dizzy, Dizzy, Dizzy. No strength. All doctors say go back on it or celexa, and I am so afraid too, afraid it will cause more problems after 7 months off and such problems. Wonder if anyone ever started back on after being off this long with bad, syndrome.

Hi, I don’t have ringing in my ears but I do have CONSTANT non stop humming the same tune all day and yawning a lot. Otherwise I’m doing great.

Exactly the same here. I was on Citalopram (minimum dosage of 5mg) for about 6 days as well. I’ve always had a very harmless case of ear ringing which didn’t bother me at all but on day 4-5 I noticed that this noise had become louder and pretty unpleasant. My auditory perception in general was kind of weird I d say while taking the pills. After reading many posts on tinnitus induced via SSRI I stopped it immediately. Now I am on day 4 after having stopped the medication but the noise is still there. How are you feeling today? Has your tinnitus subsided?

Well here I am talking about this unbearable ringing, hissing and high pitched sound in my right ear. Started a month ago out of the blue! Have not taken any medication other than my Synthroid for thyroid disease and vitamins: E, D, B Complex, Biotin and calcium, nothing different —I had ear wax build up against my ear drum for over 3 weeks and finally got it flushed out– but the sounds were still there! I did use over the counter ear wax remover, forget that stuff, made the sounds worse and the ear wax never did come out, used mineral oil (which I recommend 100%) even though the wax remained in my ear and had to have it irrigated on the 22nd of Jan, 2013! What a glorious new year this has been.
The high pitched sounds didn’t go away — so I finally went to ENT Dr. and was disappointed, he offered no help what-so-ever -how sad is that!. The audiologist that did my hearing test was more help than the DR.! The only thing that irritated me was the fact that they play VERY LOW sounds, MID sounds and HIGH pitched sounds, which I already have in my right ear and therefore, how does one tell the difference from the sound you already have –from the one they are playing!!!! Very difficult to do.
SO I have this awful noise that sometimes wakes me from a less than deep sleep at night and it is so awful you want to scream out loud. I try to concentrate on something other than the sound, has anyone out there been successful with that? I have a noise machine, which the audiologist suggested and it does help but its not a 100% deal – so if anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear about them? Any natural things that anyone has tried and has helped. There has to be an answer to this stuff and someone has to find something to help all the people that have this constant hissing, ringing high pitched sounds in their ear (s) —where is all our science going??? If this is a lifetime thing— all I can say is God Help Me. Maybe God will if they can’t.
Thanks
Helen

I too have had severe withdrawals from Citalopram, the main ones are: Tinnitus, neck pains, major depression, and anxiety. It’s been 7 months, and getting worse.

I had a minor case of tinnitus…it got to where I hardly noticed it until I started taking CITALOPRAM (CELEXA). From day one I started to have louder ringing in the ears..I started taking the drug 6 days ago and I’ve had the louder ringing for 6 days. It’s unpleasant when I am in a quiet place.

I took citalopram for 3 months april – june 2011, but came off cold turkey, I felt ok for a couple of weeks and then all the symptoms came, panic, nervous, tingling, tremors, flu symptoms, tinnitus. It’s a year since I stopped and I am still suffering has any one else had a long withdrawal problem? thank you

I too stopped in june 2011 and have had tinnitus every since along with a very long withdrawal syndrome.

I’ve been on Lexapro 5 years or so. At 20 mg, began feeling too flat emotionally – no passion. Since I no longer suffered from a severe stress related breakdown, started weaning down the dosage. First to 15mg for several weeks, then 10, then 5. From time to time during this weaning process, suffered from disturbing ‘brains zaps’ similar to the nerve shock we get when bumping our elbow crazy bone, but in my head. 5mg dose was quarter of a tab. Could not cut tab any smaller so started skipping a day between doses.
After alternating days for a while, went without while observing side affects. If I felt the ‘brain zaps’, would take 5g and see how long I could go before next brain zap. Important to note I did not feel any returning signs of depression or anxiety during the entire weaning process.
A little over a week ago, I woke up with a sever case of vertigo and imbalance. My hearing was normal but with increased ringing in left ear. Next day went to urgent care. All vitals were good. Doc suggested I might be dehydrated. Went home, drank water for a good 4 or 5 days. On the sixth day after vertigo onset, I woke up in the morning with complete hearing loss in my left ear. Called for appointment with an ENT. Based on my explanation of symptoms, they wanted to see me the same day. Since I have had recent problems with fungal infections in the same ear, thought it might related. But no, external ear was clear.
He asked me if recently had any viral or bacterial infections, or head trauma. Did not. Side of head felt full, ear was ringing, hearing was gone, and was somewhat dizzy with balance problems. Did NOT feel any pain in ear. I told both doctors, ENT and Urgent Care, about my lexpro withdrawal process. I did not know if was related, and they hardly took note. I left the doctor with prescriptions for bacterial and viral antibiotics and a corticosteroid, and an appointment to seem him in four days. Apparently the medication regime is first line attempt, based on speculation, to treat inner ear for the possibility of infection causing fluid retention in middle ear. After three days medication, no changes in symptoms. In my last appointment, ENT told me he has seen similar scenarios result in permanent total ear loss. Will not know diagnosis/prognosis until I see him on Tuesday.
Carol, although I expressed my Lexapro withdrawal to the doctors, I did not take seriously the proposition that my Lexapro usage or withdrawal was the cause until, that is, I listened a doctor on a local Phoenix show today.
He expressed great concern over the use of SSRI antidepressants. He said the function of the brains seratonin level goes way beyond controlling mood /anxiety, etc. He want on to say that seratonin production in our body has evolved throughout human history to monitor and control many bodily functions. And while we inhibit seratonin uptake to the part of the brain thought to affect mood, etc, we are modifying the interaction of necessary seratonin levels throughout our brain/nervous system/body. I’m only paraphrasing the talk show doctor, but he seemed to imply radical changes are made to the related neurological systems to accommodate or deal with modified seratonin distribution, if you will. I’m sure he expressed these ideas quite differently, but I believe I picked up on his point.
Before hearing the doctor, I have read many web posts relating the brain zaps, dizziness, vertigo, increased sweating in bed (me too). And some have spoke of hearing loss and loud noise in ear, louder than prior experiences with tinnitus. After reading the posts and listening to the doctor, I am digging deeper into this issue. I empathize with your experiences, particularly with your statement of disappointment: “I am just sick about having done this to myself by taking this drug for so long.” I feel the same way.
I know your tinnitus gets worse when on Lexapro and subsides when off. My hearing loss started during the withdrawal. Suspecting the problem, I’m back on Lexapro with same symptoms. I’m concerned that the on-again-off-again regime might be antagonizing a seratonin related hearing mechanism that, once modified, cannot return to normal.
I hope I did not bore you with this drawn out expose. But like you, I think there is something to this issue. To you or anyone reading this post, would appreciate your shared experiences.
thx

This is exactly how mine acts—-mostly at night and it came on for no reason—mostly notice at night but if I think about it ==it is a daytime also. I haven’t tried anything but afraid medicine can mess things up—
mgb

Update.. My MD reduced my dosage to 10mg to see if the tinnitus changed at all. I’ve been on the 10mg for about two weeks now, and the ringing is much less severe.

I have another follow-up exam with my MD tomorrow, so am researching the tinnitus issue on-line. My ears started ringing about two weeks after starting Citalopram. I did mention it to my MD when I went for a one month follow-up, but she seemed to think it’s due to noise exposure. I’m pretty darn sure it’s from the Citalopram, since I have never had this before. My ears ring around the clock and some days worse than others. It’s really driving me crazy. Thanks for all of your posts. I will try to post after my visit tomorrow and let you all know how it goes!

I take Celexa and I have ringing in only one ear it started after being on it for about 2 months but it only happens 1-2 hrs after taking the Celexa and lasts about 5 hours.

Yes, yes, yes! I do believe that my tinnitus which has continued to worsen over ten years (24/7) was caused by my taking Lexapro! I have no other lifestyle factors which would cause tinnitus and no family history of it. I had finally weaned myself off the Lexapro last fall but when my mood began to sink again, I started taking it again in early January. Four days later, I realized that I could no longer hear my bedside clock ticking. I quit taking it and I could once again hear my clock.
Four days ago because my mood was still poor, I decided to start taking the Lexapro again. Last night I noticed that I couldn’t hear the clock ticking. I think this drug is definitely related to the hearing problems. It is not just tinnitus, but hearing loss that I have– almost to the point where they would recommend hearing aids. I am just sick about having done this to myself by taking this drug for so long.

I started taking citalopram on 4/4 and that evening had ringing in my ears. I called the doctor and they said it is not a side affect. Today is the 10th and the ringing is round the clock since day 1. I am going back to the doctor again to get off this medicine and hopefully the ring goes away.

hi, I was on citalopram for 3 months came off it abruptly, been off it 8 months and had some terrible withdrawal symptoms, and still having them, I have noticed when I am in a room that is silent I can hear this high pitch noise in my ears. Have you had withdrawal symptoms at all, and if so how long?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Citalopram can cause withdrawal symptoms if it is stopped suddenly.
Several others have reported tinnitus (that high-pitched noise) after citalopram. Here’s the link:
https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2012/02/12/citalopram-celexa-escitalopram-lexapro-tinnitus/

I started Celexa in Sept. 2010, at 20mg. I’m male, aged 60. I took it for about 9 months then stopped late June 2011. I stopped too abruptly, and my tinnitus, which was normally tolerable, became a loud high pitched squeal, or hiss. It has remained so most of the time, as I returned to taking the usual dose. I believe tinnitus is a real side effect of SSRI’s like Celexa, and it is NOT anecdotal. I’ve read too much about it to think otherwise.

I have had tinnitus for 7or 8 years. Night is loud until I fall asleep. Day time no problem unless I stop and think about it. It has affected my hearing and will go to a doctor in a week or two. I feel for everyone I’m not sure there is a cure—

Right now there is no ringing in my ears. I’m thankful to this email notification, because I typically feel like there is ringing in my ears all the time, because I pay attention to it when it bothers me. I can attest to the fact that I don’t hear it now. So, when it’s not bothering me, I don’t notice and I guess I don’t have it all the time. I do realize it when driving to slightly different altitudes, when I’m stressing about something, when the wax has built up in my ears (recently cleaned by my ENT doc). I’ve tried the vitamins, but they didn’t make any difference.
I do not take any medication at this point in my life at 59 yrs old. I feel like when I am healthier, thinner, eating low salt, low sugar, whole, fresh foods… I think the sound is quieter and/or I am bothered by it less frequently, but even then sometimes I hear it. As most have said, I try to ignore it and hope for these times when it’s completely gone. How lucky, how fortunate I feel right now!

I have had tinnitus now for six years. It came out of nowhere but it was 7/24 and I thought I would go crazy. Finally a friend of mind put me in touch with an audiologist who practices ” Tinnitus retraining”. This is a treatment where one trains the brain to ignore the noise. It worked for me, I still get some tinnitus about twice a week, but I know it will be gone the next day, and I can live with that, certainly better then every day.
You can put in search “Tinnitus Retraining’ and get some information on it. I was lucky that the audiologist who helped me was trained by the man who developed the training he was with the university of Maryland medical school. And my audiologist was here in Virginia.

I, too, developed tinnitus after starting to take citalopram several months ago, and I am about to start a trial at half the dose to see how this may affect the problem.

I have had fullness in my left eustacian tube for about 35 years and have been to ENT’s three times for this. Yawning helps but it returns after 15 – 30 seconds. The last ENT prescribed nasonex to address this problem, and I immediately noticed my tinnitus was much worse. I have not used the nasal spray for 2 – 3 weeks, but the tinnitus remains the same.

My tinnitus began immediately after being exposed to a loud noise for several minutes. I could hardly wait to get to the hearing specialist to “get it fixed” only to be told that I would never hear silence again–and I haven’t–for thirty two years. It has affected my hearing drastically. I take a supplement called “RingStop” which seems to calm it down a bit, as does ginko. Aspirin or caffine make it worse.

As stated in earlier remarks, my tinnitus evolved gradually some 50 years ago due to high-pitch/high-volume sounds (gunfire), and high-dose aspirin meant to ‘prevent’ arthritis. The aspirin worked, I have minimal arthritis and aspirin is still my drug of choice. I have never taken any of the drugs mentioned above. My ringing, buzzing, skirching tones are sometimes interspersed with almost coherent vocal sounds – as of a distant radio program. I live with it and would never take another drug to attack it. Acupuncture? Nah!

I have had tinnitus for about 50 years, starting in my 30’s… no drugs and only bp pills now… I notice if there is other noise in room, it is easier to live with. Some days it is quieter than others. Just one of those things and it is better to leave most drugs alone.

I developed Tinnitus about a year and a half ago. I had strep and I was put on antibiotics and ever since then I have had ringing in the ears. some days its better than others but my ears ring 24/7.

I have been wondering for some time about the difference between celexa and lexapro. It is my understanding that lexapro is the S isomer and celelexa is the equal mixture of R and S, or the racemate. It is the S isomer, lexapro, that does the work intended. Celexa is half as active so the dosage is usually 2x lexapro. My question is, does the celexa equilibrate to more S to make up for the amount of S used in the body? In other words, will all the celexa eventually essentially behave as if it the S isomer or at least more than the amount of S in the initial racemate. Alternatively, does the R isomer interact in such a way as to lose its identity and cannot become more like lexapro?
LP

Tinnitus can just happen. It hit me at age 40 and I wasn’t taking anything. I’ve had it for 40 years now. Sometimes it’s louder than others, but always there. My doctor had no idea of why it came on.

I developed tinnitus after using high-dose Ibuprofen for a few days following a surgery. The tinnitus remains, and I’ve become very conservative about using any kind of meds because so many seem to exacerbate the tinnitus. I know now that a lot of meds are considered potentially ototoxic.

I have tinnitus too, bad enough that it interferes with my hearing. Of course, have to remember I am 74. I am weaning off citalopram because I am switching doctors and could not get a refill. Perhaps it is just as well.
I also take ambien when needed and hydrocodone on a daily basis. Tinnitus runs in my family; my sister had it despite taking no drugs. However, she did have high bp.
I have no personal experience with trying to reduce tinnitus; but have read that ginkgo will work. As I recall tho, the last time I went back to citalopram, the tinnitus became much worse. So off with the old and on with the new – ginkgo.
If any of you have access to a natural health practitioner, you might find help there. If so, please do the rest of us a favor and post your experience.
Thanks a bunch,
Helen

When I saw this question, I searched the free site RXList.com for “citalopram” and did a “Find” on the results page for “tinnitus.” Within seconds I knew it was an infrequent side effect.
RXList.com is an excellent resource and the logical place to start if you’re researching drug side effects, vs starting with a medical literature search.

I developed Tinnitus about 6 monts ago. My ENT indicated my pain medication (Hydrocodone) to the be the cause. There are days, like today, when it just about drives me crazy and other days when the ringing seems to lessen. I have investigated many avenues for help and found nothing. For anyone reading this wonderful column, and has had success in eliminating or at least reducing the high pitched ringing, please share for those of us struggling with Tinnitus. Thank you

Are there nutritional remedies for ringing in the ears? My ENT doctor gave me vitamin pills for the ringing, but if that is actually a solution (it did not work for me) I would be interested to know if anyone experienced relief from a modification in diet alone.

I developed tinnitus after using Ambien for many months. I went to ENT Dr.’s for exam and they could find nothing wrong. I found the drug info for Ambien online and buried in the pages of side effects was tinnitus…. of course, very rarely does this occur. I went off the Ambien for quite some time and the ringing in my ears diminished. When I started taking it again, the tinnitus resumed. I had to choose between a night’s sleep and ear noise. I chose sleep.

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