Citalopram Side Effects: The Adverse Symptoms Of Celexa

Last Updated: June 16, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Celexa side effects can be slight, moderate, and severe. It depends on many conditions. For those who experience Celexa side effects, using the medication can be problematic. From behavioral symptoms to sexual dysfunction, this is what users should know about citalopram side effects.

Celexa Physical Side Effects

Many of the physical side effects of Celexa are shared by other drugs in citalopram’s drug class. If a patient has experienced negative effects from other SSRIs, there is a high chance they will feel them with citalopram as well. Below are the side effects of Celexa patients might physically experience.

Common Physical Citalopram Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • General stomach upset
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Lethargy
  • Yawning
  • Weakness
  • Unexplained tremors
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Heavy periods

These symptoms, including Citalopram weight gain, will not be experienced by every patient, but they are considered common. Due to the impact the drug can have on coordination, it is recommended that patients avoid driving or operating machinery until they know how Celexa impacts them. Luckily, these symptoms go away after a week or so in most patients. If they do not stop, the patient should contact their doctor.

Dangerous Physical Citalopram Side Effects

While unpleasant, the above symptoms are not considered life-threatening. However, Celexa could have side effects that are deadly. If any of the following symptoms are noticed, the patient should seek immediate emergency medical treatment:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Changes in pulse
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Coma
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Hives, blisters, or rash
  • Itching
  • Impaired respiration
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling in any part of the body
  • Hoarseness
  • Bleeding or bruising that is unusual or unexplained
  • Severe headache
  • Seizures

Long-Term Side Effects

In addition to these, there are some long-term side effects common enough to be of note. These include blood clotting issues, decreased serotonin in the blood platelets, stomach bleeding, bleeding in the uterus. Unlike the above symptoms, these do not come on fast, and they can be harder to catch before the situation turns deadly.

The higher the dose taken, the more likely it is that the patient will experience side effects. For example, citalopram 20 mg side effects show up more often than those of 10 mg and less often than those of 40 mg. As such, if a patient is experiencing mild common side effects, they may just need their dose adjusted.

Celexa Mental Side Effects

While the physical side effects of using Celexa are concerning, the mental side effects tend to be more common and less likely to resolve over time. Given that the medication is designed to act on the brain, psychological effects are the goal of using it. However, the side effects are unwanted and even dangerous.woman suffering from celexa side effects

Moderate And Severe Mental Side Effects of Citalopram

  • Mood swings
  • Celexa anxiety
  • New or increased depression
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies

Something of note here is that much of what Celexa is used for can also be caused or worsened by taking the medication. It is a treatment for the major depressive disorder but can increase depression. Many use citalopram for anxiety, yet it can make this worse. This means that there is some risk in opting for this drug as a treatment method.

Detering Mental Side Effects

As with physical side effects, mental side effects like citalopram anxiety can go away once the body adjusts to the drug. If they do not resolve, the doctor is likely to try reducing the medication as a first step, as citalopram 10mg side effects are lesser than those of higher doses. However, they may need to discontinue use completely, depending on what side effects are present.

In general, suicidal thoughts and tendencies are an indication that not only does the medication need to be stopped, but the patient needs to be admitted to a facility until these thoughts and ideations go away. Any patient who notices new or increased suicidal thoughts should reach out for help immediately.

Celexa And Sleep

The effect of citalopram on sleep varies from person to person. In some patients, it makes it easier for them to sleep, while in others, it makes them more awake and alert. In others still, it does not affect sleep at all. How a patient reacts will depend on a few factors, including what their sleep was like before taking the medication and what time of day they take Celexa.

For those Celexa does make sleepy, the medication should be taken before bed. This way, they are not lethargic throughout the day, and they benefit from better sleep. If someone experiences Celexa insomnia, they should do the opposite and take their dose in the morning.

When patients experience problems with Celexa and sleep that cannot be addressed by changing the timing of the dose, the doctor may try to reduce the amount of the medication taken. Another option will be to look into Celexa alternatives. It is possible that a patient will have a different reaction on another antidepressant. As such, a doctor may consider Lexapro vs Celexa.

Celexa And Pregnancy

When it was first introduced, Celexa was listed as a Category B medication. This denotes that medication does not show fetal risk in animal studies, but there is not enough information on how it impacts human pregnancy. As such, for the first several years of its use in the United States, Celexa and pregnancy were seen as an acceptable combination.taking citalopram during pregnancy

This has since changed. In 2004, the FDA required not just citalopram, but nearly all SSRIs, to be changed to Category C. Category C medications are those that have shown an adverse effect on animal pregnancies, but it is unclear what the effects are on human ones, and doctors are allowed to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks. As such, citalopram and pregnancy is a risky combination.

This means that taking Celexa while pregnant can be harmful to a baby. Overall, studies have not shown a statistically significant increase in birth defects amongst those who opt for citalopram in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, when it is used in the later part of the second and throughout the third trimester, it is associated with increased risk of poor neonatal adaptation syndrome.

Use of Celexa during pregnancy in the later trimesters is associated with various adverse effects that include:

  • Tremors
  • Excessive crying
  • Irritability
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Failure to thrive
  • Septal defects
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Anencephaly
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Omphalocele

Due to the risks, Celexa while pregnant is not recommended. Those who are on the drug will need to stop before they reach the middle of their second trimester. However, pregnant women must work closely with their doctor while doing so as the side effects of stopping Celexa can also harm the baby. Since Celexa and breastfeeding are not contraindicated at this time, the mother can resume taking the medication after the birth.

Celexa Sexual Side Effects

Like many antidepressants, citalopram impacts sex drive and other aspects of sexual health. This is true in both men and women. The medication can cause this problem when taken on its own. However, they can be made more severe due to Celexa drug interactions. These can be caused by mixing prescription medications or using street drugs while taking Celexa. Combining citalopram and alcohol can also exacerbate the sexual side effects of the drug.

While both men and women can experience Celexa sex drive changes, the way the sexual side effects present differ. It is important the users understand what symptoms to watch for.

Celexa Sexual Side Effects In Females

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Struggles with becoming aroused
  • An inability to reach orgasm
  • Loss of sensation
  • A lack of natural lubrication
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Persistent genital arousal

Celexa Sexual Side Effects In Males

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Struggles with becoming aroused
  • An inability to reach orgasm
  • Loss of sensation
  • Persistent genital arousal
  • An inability to get or maintain an erection
  • Diminished sperm count

In some cases, changing the dosage or when doses are taken can reduce the impact on Celexa on a patient’s sex life. When this does not work, the patient may need to stop using the drug.

Celexa Side Effects When Taken Properly

citalopram hydrobromide side effects when sticked to the drug scheduleWhile it is understandable that medications will have side effects when they are abused, many patients expect that they will not experience them if they take their medicines properly. However, that is not the case with citalopram.

Many users will experience side effects of Celexa even when they take their medication as directed. There is no specific reason why this is. Sometimes it is because the user has an underlying medical condition or is taking other substances that interact poorly with citalopram, but in many cases, side effects occur without a clear reason.

In most cases, these will not be severe. Doctors will usually help the patient cope with side effects by adjusting citalopram dosing. However, there are times when the side effects of citalopram are significant enough that doctors will have the patient discontinue use of the drug.

Reducing Celexa Side Effects

The method used for reducing or avoiding side effects of Celexa will depend on what effects are being experienced. For example, if the side effect is nausea, it could be resolved by taking Celexa 30 minutes after eating. If the side effect is suicidal thoughts, the only option is to discontinue use. In most cases, the doctor will opt to play around with dosage and timing of doses first before stopping the medication.

The greatest risk of citalopram side effects, especially severe ones, comes when it is abused. Those who take it without supervision or in doses that are larger than recommended significantly increase their likelihood of experiencing negative effects. As such, no one should abuse or misuse this medication.

Getting Help

Ultimately, anyone who takes Celexa may experience side effects, but those who abuse it for Celexa high are at the greatest risk. Rehabilitation centers can help users stop the drug and live a better life. To manage withdrawal from Celexa and get clean, seek addiction treatment.

Page Sources


Published on: April 23rd, 2019

Updated on: June 16th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


Leave a comment