Citalopram Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

Citalopram is used to assist in the treatment of depression. Like most anti-depressants, it must be used with supervision in order to avoid the potential risks and side effects.

Citalopram can be used to treat both anxiety and depression. Any time you are taking an antidepressant you should proceed with extreme caution. This caution is increased in young adults and children. As your body gets used to the medication, you will need to have someone help monitor your condition for potential risk. If these precautions are taken and you use citalopram under the supervision of a doctor, there is much less worry that you will develop difficulties with your prescription.

Indications and Usage

Citalopram is most commonly prescribed under the brand name Celexa, and is used to help combat the effects of depression. In this case, depression is described as a dysphonic mood which interferes with your ability to function on a day to day basis. It will take some time to take effect, and during this time your condition may become worse or you may begin to develop thoughts of suicide. It is important to keep contact with your doctor and inform them if these conditions arise so you can determine the best way to work through them.

It is typically recommended that patients take citalopram alongside therapy or other treatments for depression. Because of the hormonal nature of the drug, you will need to gradually reduce your dosage instead of stopping at the end of your prescription. Do not stop taking it suddenly or it could increase your risk of worsening your depression or developing suicidal thoughts. When you take your dose, it is to be administered once daily, either in the morning or evening. You do not need to take citalopram with food, but it is recommended that you drink water to help swallow and absorb the pill properly.

Dosage and Correct Use

Initial treatment for most adults will begin at 20 mg once a day, and may be increased to 40 mg a day depending on the nature of the patient's condition and how long the patient expects to take the medication. Those who are planning on long-term use will need to use lower doses to avoid dependent behavior as much as possible.

  • The minimum effective dose is 20 mg distributed weekly. Doses should not exceed 40 mg per day, especially in the case of prolonged use.
  • Pregnant women are not advised to take citalopram during their third trimester. Your doctor may need to lower your dose in order to account for the changes in hormones that naturally occur during pregnancy. Citalopram will be passed to your newborn, so it is vital that you discuss the risk with your doctor before continuing your prescription.

Caution: It is not intended to be given to children or adults over the age of 65. If your doctor determines that a dose for someone in this age group is appropriate, then their condition will need to be monitored very closely, both for renal impairment or worsening of their depression.

Those who have suffered from heart conditions, glaucoma, diabetes, epilepsy, liver disease or have thoughts of committing suicide may not be eligible to take citalopram. These conditions can be made worse by this medication. You may also be more likely to develop side effects which could be fatal. Talk with your doctor about your medical history and determine whether or not it is safe to take citalopram at its full dosage given your condition.

Citalopram Side Effects

Up to 21 percent of patients suffer from side effects from the medication.

The most common effects include dry mouth, loss of appetite, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headache, drowsiness, vivid dreaming, frequent urination, decreased sex drive, or dysmenorrhea. In most cases these side effects were mild and did not result in the patient ceasing their medication. Side effects are most likely to occur when the patient starts their prescription or when their prescription is increased. If you find your symptoms are interfering with your everyday life, then talk to your doctor about how to proceed. Do not stop taking your medication suddenly as this can send your body into withdrawal.

Less common side effects for citalopram patients include thirst, dry eyes, eye pain, gastritis, colitis, impulsiveness, exaggerated feeling of well-being, joint pain, flushing, easy bruising or bleeding and breakouts on the skin. In most cases these symptoms are not dangerous, but breakouts on the skin or excessive dryness could be a sign of an allergic reaction. If these side effects are paired with hoarseness, difficulty breathing or symptoms similar to hay fever then it is vital that you get medical attention right away. This is especially vital if you are unable to breathe or are worried that you might lose consciousness.

An overinflated sense of well-being may be a sign of an overdose. If you begin to notice a patient's behavior has become erratic or out of character then they may be abusing their medication. Get in contact with their doctor to get advice on how to proceed. Sudden facial movements, fever, vomiting or seizuresmay accompany these symptoms as well. These could be a sign that the patient is suffering from serotonin syndrome. This is a serious condition which will require immediate medical attention, especially if the patient begins to lose consciousness.

In some patients, citalopram has made the symptoms of depression worse. If your depression becomes more difficult to manage or you begin to have thoughts of suicide, then get in contact with your regular mental health professional right away. Your doctor may give you information about hotlines that you can call if you are having trouble late at night. Keep this information close by until you are sure how you will react to citalopram.

  • Pregnant women have the risk of heart defects or lung problems in the fetus. The risk of spontaneous abortion is also high when taking citalopram. Once the child is born, they may exhibit withdrawal symptoms due to their dependency on the drug. It is very important to discuss these risks before taking citalopram while pregnant.
  • Children who take citalopram are much more likely to develop serotonin syndrome, headache, migraine, insomnia, dry mouth or suicidal thoughts than adults who use this medication. Children are also more likely to have an allergic reaction to the drug than adults might. Seniors also have a similar risk when taking citalopram, and have a much more likely chance of developing side effects such as renal failure. Overall, it is not recommended that these age groups use this drug, but if a doctor prescribes it, you should use it under the closest supervision possible. If any of these side effects begin to appear, inform your doctor immediately and get advice on how to proceed


Many different medications are known to interact with citalopram. These include oxidase inhibitors and pimozide. These are known for interfering with the medication so it is not absorbed properly in the body. Blood thinners, lithium-based medications, seizure control drugs, enzyme inhibitors, serotonergics, medications prescribed for metabolic issues or certain antihistamines may disrupt your body's ability to regulate your hormones and chemicals in the brain, which could increase your risk of side effects. Inform your doctor regarding any medications you are currently taking, as well as any vitamins or mineral supplements you take on a regular basis. Citalopram is known for interacting with St. John's Wort, an addition in many over the counter supplements.



Diovan is used to manage high blood pressure. This medication is often prescribed in addition to other medications to manage your condition.

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