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Medication

Celexa®

Celexa is the brand name of the generic medication citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD).

by

Ros Lederman

Medically reviewed by

Lloyd Sederer, MD

April 19, 2022

Celexa®

fast facts.

Pronunciation

suh-lek-suh

Drug class

selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

Other names

citalopram

Used for

eating disorders (such as binge eating disorder), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), social anxiety disorder

About

Celexa®

What is Celxa?

Celexa is the brand name of the generic medication citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs are a type of antidepressant medication that also are used to treat anxiety. SSRIs boost the level of serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter that plays a role in balancing your mood as well as affecting emotions such as optimism, contentment, and satisfaction). By preventing serotonin from being reabsorbed into the nerve cells (neurons) in your brain, SSRIs make more serotonin available at the synapses (spaces that connect neurons and allow them to fire) in your brain.

Celexa is used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). It may also be prescribed for “off-label” uses for several other conditions. Off-label use (a common and acceptable medical practice) is when a medication is prescribed for a condition that it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat.

Celexa is used off-label to treat:

  • Eating disorders (such as binge eating disorder)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Social anxiety disorder

Celexa (citalopram) is available in tablet and liquid forms:

Celexa/citalopram tablet

  • 10 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 40 mg

Citalopram liquid

  • 10 mg/5 ml

A typical starting dose of Celexa is 20 mg, taken once daily. If needed, your doctor, prescribing nurse, or Minded professional may gradually increase your dose up to the maximum recommended dose of 40 mg daily. (While 40 mg is the maximum recommended daily dose, some people might need a higher dose to achieve relief from their symptoms.)

For some people—such as adults over age 60 and people with liver problems—the maximum recommended daily dose of Celexa is 20 mg because the medication may stay in their body for a longer period and add to its side effects.

Regardless of the dosage, Celexa is a once-daily medication that can be taken in the morning or the evening, with or without food.

If you accidentally miss your dose of Celexa, you will want to either take the missed dose as soon you remember—or, if it is closer to when you would take the next dose, just go ahead and take the next dose.


For more information:

Celexa side effects, warnings, and interactions

Celexa side effects

Common side effects of Celexa include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling anxious
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sexual problems (including decreased sex drive or sexual dysfunction)
  • Shaking
  • Sleepiness
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Yawning

While some side effects of Celexa tend to improve over the course of the first few weeks of taking the medication, other adverse effects—such as sexual side effects—may not go away while you are on this medication.

Let your doctor, prescribing nurse, or Minded professional know if you experience these or any other new or worsening Celexa side effects. 

Rare or serious side effects of Celexa include:

  • Angle-closure glaucoma (symptoms include: pain in your eye, vision changes, or swelling or redness in or around your eye)
  • Low sodium levels in your blood (symptoms include: headaches, feeling weak, or having a hard time concentrating or remembering things)
  • Seizures
  • Serotonin Syndrome (symptoms include: shivering, diarrhea, confusion, severe tightness in your muscles, fever, or seizures. Serotonin Syndrome is very serious and may be fatal if not properly and promptly diagnosed and treated.)
  • Teeth grinding

Celexa and other SSRIs also may increase your risk for potentially life-threatening bleeding, especially in your intestines, stomach, nose, or gums. This risk may be further increased if you are taking certain other medications as well, such as:

  • Anticoagulants (such as Eliquis or Warfarin)
  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen)  

Seek medical attention right away if you experience these (or any other) serious side effects.




Celexa warnings

Celexa comes with an FDA “Black Box” warning, which means that the FDA has identified certain serious safety risks that may occur when taking this medication. Black Box warnings are serious safety warnings, though the actual risk may be low or even rare.

The Black Box warning for Celexa states:

  • Children, adolescents, and young adults (under age 24) who take antidepressants might be at an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Studies did not show this increased risk in people older than 24—and the risk decreased in people age 65 and older.
  • Celexa is not approved for use in children under the age of 18.



Celexa and pregnancy

If you are planning on becoming pregnant or breastfeeding, discuss your treatment plan with your prescribing doctor or nurse. Celexa (and SSRIs generally) may affect your baby during pregnancy and can be passed to them through your breast milk.



Celexa withdrawal symptoms

If you need to stop taking Celexa (for any reason), work with your doctor or prescribing nurse to develop a plan to carefully and gradually decrease your dose. This is important in order to avoid antidepressant medication withdrawal symptoms, which can be mild and last a week or two, or might be more severe and persist for weeks or even months.

Symptoms of Celexa withdrawal may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Nightmares
  • Prickling and/or tingling sensation on the skin (paresthesias)
  • Vomiting

 


Celexa interactions

Always let your doctor or a Minded professional know about any other medications and/or supplements you are taking to determine if Celexa might have any negative interactions with them.

Celexa may interact with:

  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Medications that may cause bleeding, such as Advil (ibuprofen), aspirin, or Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Methadone 
  • Migraine medications (triptans)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs—another type of antidepressant medication)
  • Other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Some antiarrhythmics (medications that correct abnormal heart rhythms), such as Betapace (sotalol), Cordarone (amiodarone), Pacerone (amiodarone), Procanbid (procainamide), Pronestyl (procainamide), Pronestyl-SR (procainamide), Quinalan (quinidine), Quinaglute (quinidine), Quinidex Extentabs (quinidine), or Sorine (sotalol)
  • Some antibiotics, such as Avelox (moxifloxacin) or Tequin (gatifloxacin)
  • Some antipsychotics, such as thioridazine or Thorazine (chlorpromazine)
  • Some pain medications, such as Ultram (tramadol)
  • Zyvox (linezolid)

 

Celexa and alcohol

If you are taking Celexa (or other antidepressant medications), you should not drink alcohol. Though alcohol may seem to boost your mood in the short term, it can worsen depression and anxiety symptoms in the long term. Alcohol can increase the negative effects of antidepressant medications (such as sedation), while also decreasing the positive effects. There is also a risk of accidentally overdosing on Celexa if this medication is taken with alcohol.

Symptoms of a Celexa overdose may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sinus tachycardia (abnormally fast heartbeat)
  • Sleepiness
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Celexa and other SSRI medications must be taken regularly both to avoid withdrawal symptoms and to effectively treat anxiety and/or depression. Do not skip doses of Celexa in order to drink alcohol.


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Frequently asked questions about Celexa

How long does it take for Celexa to work?

When you first start taking Celexa (or most SSRIs), you may notice your appetite, energy, and/or sleep improve in the first two weeks. It may take 6 to 8 weeks, or more, for other symptoms—such as decreased interest in day-to-day activities or depressed mood—to noticeably improve.

Does Celexa cause weight gain?

Not all weight gain that people experience while on antidepressants is directly caused by the medication itself. That being said, there are studies that have shown that there is a link between some antidepressant medications like Celexa and weight gain

One such study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, found an average Celexa weight gain of 5.9 pounds over a 2-year period.

Celexa vs Lexapro—which is better?

Lexapro (escitalopram) is an SSRI medication that has several conditions it treats in common with Celexa, including:

  • Eating disorders (including binge eating disorder)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

While few recent studies have looked at direct comparisons of Lexapro vs Celexa, older studies have found that:

For more information:

Celexa vs Zoloft—which is better?  

Zoloft (sertraline) is another SSRI that has conditions it treats in common with Celexa, including:

  • Eating disorders (including binge eating disorder)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Social anxiety disorder

A 2018 study published in Lancet that looked at several previous studies noted that both Celexa and Zoloft were found to be among the more tolerable antidepressant medications. A 2011 study comparing Zoloft vs Celexa in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology also found that both medications were effective and tolerable—but that Celexa may start working faster than Zoloft.

Celexa vs Prozac—which is better?  

Another SSRI that has conditions it treats in common with Celexa is Prozac (fluoxetine). Both medications can be used to treat:

  • Eating disorders (including binge eating disorder)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Social anxiety disorder

The 2018 Lancet study mentioned above also included Prozac in its findings of more tolerable antidepressants. However, while all of the medications examined in the study (including Celexa) were found to be effective treatment options, Prozac was grouped among the less effective medications.

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Is Celexa right for you?

Visit Minded to find out if Celexa could work for your depression or anxiety treatment.

Minded offers online appointments with psychiatry providers within a week. If you already have a Celexa prescription, Minded can help you refill or renew it online. Our team of professionals can also assist with adjusting your dosage or advising you about other medications that might be a good fit for your needs.

Minded Medication Guides are intended as educational aids only. They are not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatment. They are not a substitute for a medical exam, nor do they replace the need for services provided by medical professionals. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist before taking any prescription medication and throughout any treatment.



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