What are the possible side effects of Celexa in children?

Research is limited on the potential benefits and side effects of treating children with Celexa (citalopram), because the drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults. Prescribing Celexa to children is considered an "off-label" use of the drug.

Celexa belongs to a category of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In one review of the 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. There is also some evidence that Celexa can cause decreased appetite and weight loss in children.

You and your child's doctor should watch for unusual changes in behavior, such as having thoughts of suicide, worsened depression, feelings of confusion or memory problems, extreme worry, agitation, restlessness, panic attacks, impulsiveness, irritability, aggressive behavior or trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

Celexa may cause side effects including fatigue, weakness, heavy menstrual periods, stomach pain and/or upset, dry mouth, muscle or joint pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, going to the bathroom often and involuntary shaking of a body part. If your child experiences side effects from taking Celexa, call her doctor, but do not let her stop taking Celexa without talking to the doctor first. Stopping Celexa suddenly may cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Your child's doctor may want to wean her off the medication gradually.

More serious physical symptoms include chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, fainting, loss of consciousness, fever, excessive sweating, hives or blisters, rash, itching, fast, slow or irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hoarseness, headache, unusual bleeding or bruising, swelling of the face, throat, tongue, eyes, lower legs and feet, seizures and unsteadiness. Call your child's doctor right away if she experiences any of these symptoms.

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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.