By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Citalopram Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is citalopram used for?

Citalopram is commonly used to treat depression. It may improve your energy level and feelings of well-being. Citalopram is known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This medication works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain.

This medication may also be used to treat other mental conditions (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder). It may also be used to treat hot flashes that occur with menopause.

How should I take citalopram?

Take citalopram exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

It may take up to 4 weeks before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.

Do not stop using citalopram suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

How do I store citalopram?

Citalopram is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store citalopram in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of citalopram that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush citalopram down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using citalopram?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of citalopram or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

Do not use citalopram if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.

Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

Taking an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy may cause serious lung problems or other complications in the baby. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Do not start or stop taking this medicine during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using citalopram during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking citalopram. Citalopram is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from citalopram?

Common side effects may include:

  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Headache, drowsiness
  • Dry mouth, increased sweating
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Increased appetite, nausea, diarrhea, gas
  • Fast heartbeats, feeling shaky
  • Sleep problems (insomnia), feeling tired
  • Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat
  • Changes in weight
  • Difficulty having an orgasm

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • A light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
  • Blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights
  • Headache with chest pain and severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats
  • Severe nervous system reaction–very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out
  • High levels of serotonin in the body–agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, fainting
  • Low levels of sodium in the body–headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, feeling unsteady

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to citalopram: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with citalopram?

Citalopram may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Products that may interact with this drug are:

  • Cimetidine
  • Lithium
  • John’s wort
  • Tryptophan (sometimes called L-tryptophan)
  • A blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven)
  • Any other antidepressant
  • Heart medication
  • Medicine to treat a psychiatric disorder
  • “triptan” migraine headache medicine

Does food or alcohol interact with citalopram?

Citalopram may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with citalopram?

Citalopram may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Health conditions that may interact with this drug are:

  • Bipolar disorder (mood disorder with mania and depression)
  • Bleeding problems
  • Glaucoma (angle-closure type)
  • Hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood)
  • Mania
  • Seizures
  • Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart rhythm problems (eg, congenital long QT syndrome)
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood)
  • Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using citalopram.

What is the dose of citalopram for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Depression:

Initial dose: 20 mg orally once a day.

Maintenance dose: 20 to 40 mg/day. The initial dose may be increased in 20 mg increments not more often than once a week up to a maximum of 40 mg per day.

Usual Geriatric Dose for Depression:

20 mg/day orally is the maximum recommended dose for patients who are greater than 60 years of age.

What is the dose of citalopram for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Depression:

Children Up To 11 Years: Initial dose: 10 mg orally once daily; increase dose slowly by 5 mg/day every 2 weeks as clinically needed; dosage range: 20 to 40 mg/day.

12 to 18 Years: Initial: 20 mg orally once daily; increase dose slowly by 10 mg/day every 2 weeks as clinically needed; dosage range: 20 to 40 mg/day.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Children up to 11 years: Initial: 5-10 mg/day given once daily; increase dose slowly by 5 mg/day every 2 weeks as clinically needed; dosage range: 10 to 40 mg/day.

12 to 18 years: Initial: 10 to 20 mg/day given once daily; increase dose slowly by 10 mg/day every 2 weeks as clinically needed; dosage range: 10 to 40 mg/day.

How is citalopram available?

Citalopram is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Tablet 20 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of citalopram, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: July 26, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

You might also like