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What should seniors know before using Celexa?

Before taking Celexa (citalopram), seniors should know why they are being prescribed the medication, what it does and what side effects they may need to watch for. Celexa is an antidepressant medication that's usually taken once a day. It's prescribed for major depressive disorder (MDD) and other mental health problems, including panic disorders, social phobia, eating disorders and alcoholism. Celexa is thought to work by helping a particular brain chemical, called serotonin, deliver messages from one cell to the next.

In studies, Celexa was as effective and safe in people ages 65 and older as in younger people. However, older people who take Celexa may be at greater risk for a side effect known as hyponatremia, in which there is not enough salt in the fluid surrounding cells in the body. This can lead to swelling of the brain, which can be extremely dangerous. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness, convulsions, hallucinations, seizures, weakness, tiredness, restlessness, irritability and difficulty with concentration or memory. Call your doctor at the first sign of any of these symptoms.

The maximum recommended dose of Celexa for people ages 60 and older is 20 milligrams (mg) per day. Anyone who takes Celexa -- including seniors -- may experience unexpected changes in mental health, including suicidal thinking or behavior. This is less likely to occur in people ages 65 and older than in younger people.

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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.