What should I know about Celexa before taking it?

Before taking the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram), you should know why you are being prescribed the medication, how to take it correctly and its potential benefits and risks. Celexa is an antidepressant medication that's used to treat adults who have major depressive disorder (MDD). It's also sometimes prescribed for "off-label" uses, including eating disorders, alcoholism, anxiety disorders and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Celexa belongs to a category of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Doctors believe Celexa can improve depression by adjusting the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is involved in regulating moods as well as other functions.

Before taking Celexa, give your doctor your complete medical history. Let him or her know about health problems (including mental health problems) you're experiencing or have experienced in the past, as well as conditions that run in your family. You should also make a list of your medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and dietary and herbal supplements, and share this information with your doctor.

Your doctor may monitor you closely while you are taking Celexa, especially when you are beginning treatment with the medication, to see how you respond to the drug, adjust your dose if necessary and watch for side effects. In a small subset of people who take it, Celexa may actually increase the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors or cause other negative changes in mood.

Celexa may also have physical side effects, including headaches, fatigue, stomach upset or pain, changes in appetite and weight, muscle or joint pain, increase in urination, sexual problems, heavy menstrual periods, shaking, trouble sleeping, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, dry mouth and sleepiness. Potentially life-threatening symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fainting, fast or slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, swelling of the face, throat, tongue, eyes, hands, feet or lower legs, rash, hives or blisters, weakness, unsteadiness, confusion or memory problems, hoarseness, unusual bleeding or bruising and seizures. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Once you begin treatment with Celexa, call your doctor if you experience any side effects.

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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.