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Is Celexa safe for children?

There hasn't been enough research on the safety and effectiveness of Celexa (citalopram) in children for doctors to be sure whether it's safe for this age group. Celexa is an antidepressant that belongs to a category of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Doctors believe Celexa works to treat depression by adjusting the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain.

Currently, Celexa is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults only. However, the drug is sometimes prescribed "off-label" (a common practice in medicine) to treat depression and other mental health issues in children.

In one review of research on the use of SSRIs in children, the FDA found that about 4% of children and teens who took SSRIs experienced suicidal thinking or behavior, compared to 2% of children and teens who took placebos ("sugar" pills that did not contain active ingredients). The FDA now requires that packages of Celexa carry a black box warning (the most serious type of warning in prescription drug labeling) stating that the drug may increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and adolescents.

If your child is prescribed Celexa, you and his doctor may need to monitor him closely for behavior changes such as agitation, sleeplessness or withdrawal from social situations. His doctor may also keep close tabs on his growth because Celexa may cause decreased appetite and weight loss in some children. Research indicates that the best treatment for depression in children and teens is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Your child's doctor may recommend a therapist to treat your child as well as the medication.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.