What should I know before my child uses Celexa?

Before your child takes Celexa (citalopram), you should know why your child's doctor is prescribing it and its potential benefits and risks to your child. Celexa is an antidepressant medication that's used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). Doctors may also prescribe Celexa to treat eating disorders, panic disorders, social phobia and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Celexa belongs to a category of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are thought to work by helping a particular brain chemical, called serotonin, deliver messages from one cell to the next.

There is not enough research to prove that Celexa is safe and effective when used in children, but SSRIs are sometimes prescribed to children on an "off-label" basis (a common practice in medicine). In one review of the research on SSRIs in children, the Food and Drug Administration (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 contain no 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.

You and your child's doctor should monitor your child closely for behavior changes such as agitation, sleeplessness or withdrawal from social situations while he is taking Celexa. Your child's doctor may also closely monitor his growth, since Celexa may cause decreased appetite and weight loss in some children.

If your child experiences any side effects from taking Celexa, call your child's doctor, but do not stop giving your child the medication without talking to his doctor first. Stopping Celexa suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms. Your child's doctor may want to gradually wean your child from 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.