Celexa (citalopram) is part of a class of antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and is most commonly used to treat depression in adults, teenagers, and children. It is a prescription-only medication. This drug works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain in order to help maintain emotional balance. Celexa may also be prescribed by a doctor or a psychiatrist to help reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsion, alcohol dependency, premenstrual dysphoric issues, and disordered eating.

Dosage FAQs

  • How should I take this medication?
    Celexa comes as an oral tablet and as an oral solution. It is usually taken once per day, with or without food. As the ideal dosage will vary from person to person, your doctor may slowly increase the amount of medication taken each day to find the best dosage for you. The maximum daily dosage of this medication, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was revised to 40 mg per day in 2011. Try to take this medication at the same time each day. You may have to wait for up to four weeks before you begin to experience the full therapeutic benefits of this medication.
  • What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
    Take the dose you forgot as soon as you remember it. However you should not take the missed dose if it will soon be time for your next scheduled dose. Putting too much of this medication into your system over a short period of time may increase the risk of an overdose.
  • What should I do if I overdose on this medication?
    Call a poison help line or contact your doctor immediately. Common overdose symptoms include sleepiness; nausea or vomiting; dark colored urine; dizziness; confusion; loss of memory; excessive sweating; seizures; rapid breathing; muscular aches; bluish tint on fingers, fingernails, or mouth; loss of consciousness; and erratic, fast, or pounding heartbeat.
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    What are some ways to get the most out of my treatment with Celexa?
    Many conditions for which antidepressant medications are prescribed have also shown improvement with psychotherapy treatment. If you are prescribed this drug to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsion, or another condition, consider finding a qualified therapist or counselor to help you better understand what you are experiencing. Many therapists can offer helpful strategies such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation that may produce better, longer-lasting mental health outcomes than treatment with drugs alone.
  • How should I store this medication?
    Store this drug at room temperature, in its original container, away from excess heat or moisture. Keep this medication out of the reach of children.

Warnings Before Use

This medication may increase suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviors among children, teenagers, and young adults (under the age of 24) with depression. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop thoughts of suicide after taking this drug. Stay alert to sudden changes in your mood or the symptoms you experience.

Long term use of this medication may cause future cardiovascular problems. In 2004, the FDA reported that SSRI’s like Celexa may cause mania, hypomania, impulsivity, hostility, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, irritability, and insomnia.

Before taking Celexa, review your heart health. Inform your doctor if you have a history of heart attacks, long QT syndrome (LQTS), high blood pressure, stroke, bipolar symptoms, seizures, heart failure, glaucoma, electrolyte imbalance, or any liver, kidney, or heart disease. Tell your doctor if you plan to become pregnant during treatment. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have ever had any serious reactions to other similar medications.

Celexa can interact with some medications, including drugs for motion sickness, anticoagulants, antihistamines, antidepressants, antacids, medicines for Parkinson’s disease, drugs for sleep, antipsychotics, blood pressure medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal products (especially St. John’s wort), and more. Do not take this drug with other SSRI medications such as Lexapro, and do not take it within two weeks of taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Let your doctor know if you have taken an MAOI recently. If you are taking any other prescription vitamins, supplements, or prescription drugs, consult your doctor and/or pharmacist before using Celexa.

Important Information During Use

Once you begin taking this medication, there are some considerations you should keep in mind:

  • This medication may make you very drowsy. Do not drive or work with heavy machinery until you know how this medication will affect you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medication. Alcohol may increase the intensity of side effects. 
  • Notify your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this medication. This medication may cause serious lung issues for newborns if taken during pregnancy. This drug will pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not breastfeed while using Celexa. You should talk to your doctor about other treatments for depression if you become pregnant while taking this drug. Do not stop taking this medication without first consulting your doctor.
  • If you are scheduled for surgery, inform your doctor or the anesthesiologist that you are taking this medication. This warning includes oral surgery.

Possible Side Effects

Your doctor will help you to decide if the benefits of using Celexa outweigh the risks. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience serious or severe side effects while taking this medication. Serious side effects of this medication may include:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High fever
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blisters, hives, or rashes
  • Itching
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

Other side effects that are less serious may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Shaking
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Frequent urination
  • A noticeable change in sex drive or ability


No not stop taking this medication abruptly; it is recommended that you reduce this medication in your system slowly over time. A gradual reduction in dosage will help to reduce the frequency and severity of any withdrawal symptoms. Do not reduce or discontinue this medication without first consulting your doctor. Symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Increased irritability or anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Overall malaise


  1. Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. (2012). The side effects of common psychiatric drugs. Retrieved from http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/The_Side_Effects_of_Common_Psychiatric_Drugs.pdf
  2. Drugs.com. (2014). Celexa. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/celexa.html
  3. Medline Plus. (2014). Citalopram. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a699001.html
  4. RxList. (2014). Celexa. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/celexa-drug.htm

Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND.