citalopram, Celexa

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is citalopram, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Citalopram is an antidepressant medication that affects neurotransmitters, the chemicals that nerves within the brain use to communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters are manufactured and released by nerves and then travel and attach to nearby nerves. Thus, neurotransmitters can be thought of as the communication system of the brain. Many experts believe that an imbalance among neurotransmitters is the cause of depression. Citalopram works by preventing the uptake of one neurotransmitter, serotonin, by nerve cells after it has been released. Since uptake is an important mechanism for removing released neurotransmitters and terminating their actions on adjacent nerves, the reduced uptake caused by citalopram results in more free serotonin in the brain to stimulate nerve cells. Citalopram is in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class that also contains fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft). Citalopram was approved by the FDA in July 1998.

What brand names are available for citalopram?

Celexa

Is citalopram available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for citalopram?

Yes

What are the side effects of citalopram?

The most common side effects associated with citalopram are

Overall, between 1 in 6 and 1 in 5 persons experience a side effect. Citalopram is also associated with sexual dysfunction. Some patients may experience withdrawal reactions upon stopping citalopram. Symptoms of withdrawal include

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of citalopram or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.

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