Celexa, the brand name for citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, is prescribed for treating depression. Celexa may improve mood and energy level by “restoring the balance of certain natural substances—neurotransmitters such as serotonin—in the brain,” according to HealthCentral.com.
Before Celexa was approved for public use, doctors conducted evaluations, observing patients and classifying adverse side effects as frequent, infrequent or rare. Although symptoms occurred during Celexa treatment, Drugs.com explains they were not necessarily caused by it. To limit side effects, doctors recommend patients start taking Celexa at low doses to be gradually increased, if necessary.
Gastrointestinal side effects are infrequent and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, indigestion and abdominal pain. Some people gain weight and some lose weight. The only frequent side effect, according to the premarketing studies, is flatulence, or gas.
An epidemiologic study conducted by Susanne O. Dalton, M.D., Ph.D. and her colleagues at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen, Denmark, looked at 26,005 antidepressant users and found 3.6 times more upper GI bleeding episodes with patients taking SSRIs compared to those not taking SSRIs. Researchers observed that upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding was 4.1 percent more likely in patients receiving citalopram than people not taking SSRIs.
Sexual and Reproductive
Men taking SSRIs, including Celexa, occasionally report decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm. Ejaculation disorder, primarily ejaculatory delay, occurs in 5 percent of male patients and is the only commonly observed negative side effect reported by patients taking Celexa. Some women using Celexa occasionally experience temporary amenorrhea, the absence of a menstrual period.
Patients prescribed Celexa may experience respiratory conditions such as a stuffy nose, coughing and sinus or nasal inflammation.
Some Celexa users report dizziness, drowsiness, as well as lightheadedness when they stand or sit up.
Nervous system side effects may include headache or migraine, sweating, a dry mouth, tremors and sleep problems, such as insomnia. Many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and other antidepressants that affect serotonin levels can cause sleep abnormalities, according to Drugs.com.
Weight gain or weight loss are possible side effects, depending on the individual.
People should not stop taking Celexa without medical supervision. Patients should be monitored for withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing treatment with any SSRI antidepressant, including citalopram. Most doctors recommend reducing the dose of Celexa gradually to minimize the risks of discontinuation syndrome side effects.
Severe Allergic Reactions
Individuals who are allergic to Celexa may experience a rash or hives, itching, difficulty breathing and chest tightness, or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue. People should contact their doctors immediately if they notice any of these reactions.
Celexa and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are labeled by drug companies as medications that may "increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults when the medicine is first started," according to the Physicians' Desktop Reference. People should alert their doctor to any changes in mood, thoughts, feelings or behavior, especially when beginning antidepressant therapy or when there is a change in dosage. A physician should be contacted if new symptoms appear, such as worsening depression or anxiety, agitation, insomnia, anger, restlessness, hyperactivity, panic attacks or suicidal ideation or behavior.