What is Citalopram? - Uses & Side Effects

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Citalopram is a prescription medication used to treat depression. Learn more about citalopram, its uses, and its side effects. Then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Citalopram: Definition and Uses

Jay is a thirty-year-old widower who hasn't been himself since his wife died a year ago. He feels sad or angry much of the time. He no longer plays sports or goes hiking. Instead, he sleeps most of the day and only gets out of bed when necessary. Jay has lost a significant amount of weight over the past year and has very little energy. He finally decides to get help from a professional after his parents stop by unannounced and voice their concern for his health. After an initial assessment, Jay is diagnosed with major depression, a mood disorder characterized by reduced interest in most activities and feelings of sadness or anger that are persistent. Jay's doctor recommends he attend weekly therapy sessions and gives him a prescription for Citalopram.

Citalopram is an antidepressant drug that is commonly used to treat major depression, such as in Jay's case. Citalopram is also used to treat other mental conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and panic disorder. You may know Citalopram by its brand name, Celexa. Citalopram is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs work by inhibiting nerve cells from reabsorbing serotonin after the body releases it, thereby increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain. This in turn improves the brain's ability to transmit chemical messages, which improves mood. Other SSRIs include Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.

Side Effects

According to MedicineNet, between sixteen and twenty percent of individuals who take Citalopram encounter some side effect. Lucky for Jay, he is one of the people who does not have any side effects. So what are they? The side effects that occur most frequently with Citalopram are:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • trouble sleeping
  • shaking or tremors
  • restlessness
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • intense sweating

Side effects of Citalopram that are less common or rare include:

  • bleeding more easily
  • grinding your teeth
  • decreased sodium levels in the blood
  • blurry vision
  • memory loss
  • skin rash
  • breathing problems
  • increased appetite
  • trouble with coordination
  • swelling of the extremities
  • problems with urinating
  • decrease in emotions

Serious side effects may include:

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