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si TAL o pram

What is it

Citalopram is a medication used to treat depression. It is an antidepressant that belongs to the group of drugs called the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Brand names with manufacturer

CeleXA, Cipramil®; Paxoran®


This is a prescription only drug. It cannot be sold by a retail counter without the doctors prescription.


Citalopram has many medicinal uses such as treatment of depression and panic disorder. There are many chemicals in the brain that stimulate the neurons. These simulations help in sending electrical impulses that lead to various functions controlled by the brain. One such chemical in the brain is serotonin. When released it leads to stimulation of neurons. The chemical is taken up by the neuron cells and recycled. The amount of serotonin is increased in the brain with the help of citalopram. Thus, helping in reducing the symptoms of depression and panic disorder.


Citalopram helps in treatment of depression by improving the energy levels in the patients and increasing the feelings of well-being.

As it is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), it helps in restoring the balance of serotonin in the brain.


The drug is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, premenstrual dysphoric syndrome (PMDD), and certain eating disorders.

What should I know before taking this drug

Never stop taking citalopram suddenly. It can lead to withdrawal symptom that are quite unpleasant. Thus, speak to your doctor to help you stop citalopram without suffering a lot from the withdrawal symptoms.

How to take it

Take the drug exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Never take a larger or smaller dose than recommended. Don’t use citalopram longer than advised.

Measure the dose with a measuring spoon or cup. If you don’t have either, ask your pharmacist for one. The medication may take up to 4 weeks to show effect. Thus, make sure you do not miss a single dose, even if the symptoms do not improve during these 4 weeks or longer. If the drug fails to show effect after a month and half or more, speak to your doctor about it.

Adverse reactions/side effects

The common side effects of citalopram include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Yawning
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite

Some of the serious side effects of citalopram that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Fainting spells
  • Black stools
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Changes in sexual drive
  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Vomit that appears like coffee grounds

A serious allergic reaction to the drug can lead to:

  • Skin rash
  • Severe dizziness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, etc.

As the medication increases the amount of serotonin, it may lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome. This leads to:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Muscle twitches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fast heartbeats
  • Painful erections in men that lasts for hours

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When not to take the medicine

Do not take the medicine if you are using pimozide. Also, avoid citalopram if you are being treated with methylene blue injection.

Avoid citalopram if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past two weeks. People who have the following problems or conditions should avoid citalopram:

  • Heart diseases like heart failure, heart rhythm disorder, etc.
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Liver or kidney disorder
  • Seizures/epilepsy
  • Clotting disorder
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • History of suicidal thoughts
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma



Do not give citalopram to children under 18 years of age. This drug is not meant to be used in children.

Pregnant women

The drug falls under pregnancy category C. Citalopram may cause problems in the fetus. However, the symptoms of depression may return once the drug is stopped. Thus, speak to your doctor immediately if you get pregnant and are using citalopram.

Lactating women

Breastfeeding women should avoid citalopram as it can be excreted in breast milk. The drug can harm the nursing baby, thus, do not use when breastfeeding.


Do not take the medicine if you are allergic to escitalopram or citalopram.

What should I do if

I miss dose(s)

Take the missed dose, the minute you remember it. If it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose.

I take an overdose

If you overdose on citalopram, call your doctor or emergency medical department immediately.

What to discuss with the doctor/pharmacist

Ask the doctor regarding use of NSAIDs for pain and inflammation, when using citalopram. Never take these drugs without informing your doctor as it may lead to bleeding or bruising easily.

Citalopram may impair your thinking power. Thus, avoid driving or operating machinery when taking citalopram.

Drug interactions

Avoid taking citalopram with drugs that make you sleep or slow breathing. The combination of these drugs with citalopram may be life-threatening. Other drugs that can interact with citalopram but not limited to the following include:

  • Blood thinners
  • Heart rhythm medicines
  • Migraine headache medicine like sumatriptan
  • Antibiotics like azithromycin, levofloxacin
  • Anti-malaria medication
  • Tryptophan
  • Other antidepressants
  • Drugs to treat psychiatric disorders

Dosage form

Tablets and oral drops


The adult dose for depression includes 20 mg citalopram orally once a day, initially. The maintenance dose includes 20 to 40 mg/day. Geriatric dose for depression includes 20 mg/day orally. This is the maximum dose to be given to any patient above the age of 60 years.


Store the drug at room temperature. Keep away from heat and moisture.

Additional information, if any

The drug can lead to suicidal thoughts initially. Thus, make sure a doctor monitors the progress of your condition with regular visits. Make sure you report any symptoms like agitation, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity or feelings of suicide like hanging oneself, etc. to the doctor immediately.

Written by: team

Date last updated: June 18, 2015

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