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Citalopram is an antidepressant, used to treat symptoms of depression. It works by affecting the level of serotonin in your brain, altering your mood.
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What is Citalopram?

Citalopram is an antidepressant. It is used to control symptoms of depression. Depression is when a person is persistently sad or unhappy, often for weeks or months on end and for no obvious reason.

Depression can affect sleep, appetite, can cause loss of sexual desire, feeling constantly tired and can cause other physical and mental symptoms. Citalopram can help ease the effects and symptoms of depression.

Citalopram is available on prescription, and comes in tablet form or oral drops. Citalopram is also available under the brand name Cipramil. You cannot buy Citalopram without a prescription.

For further information, you can review the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Citalopram is a type of antidepressant known as an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood and social behaviour, so it’s thought that by increasing levels of serotonin, the effects of depression are reduced.

Citalopram can take at least two weeks to begin working, but it can take up to six weeks. Citalopram tablets come in 10mg, 20mg and 40mg strengths.

Before you take it

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s inadvisable to take citalopram. Citalopram is excreted into breast milk, and can be passed on to a baby. This also means that a baby can suffer side effects, including withdrawal symptoms.

However, the effects of depression can also harm an unborn baby, so some doctors may feel that in your individual case, the benefits of prescribing Citalopram to you outweigh the risks. If you have any concerns, speak with your doctor, pharmacist or your midwife.

Citalopram may impact your ability to drive or operate machinery. It may also impact your reaction times. If your work requires you to drive or operate heavy machinery, you must speak to your doctor before taking Citalopram. If your depression affects your driving, you must inform the DVLA. You can be fined or prosecuted if you are involved in an accident as a result of your depression. Your doctor will be able to advise you further. 

If you are taking Citalopram, it’s safe to consume alcohol. However, this must be done in moderation, as it can increase some of the side effects of Citalopram. It is advised to avoid drinking alcohol during the first few weeks of your treatment.

Citalopram may cause withdrawal symptoms. You must not stop taking Citalopram unless directed by your doctor.

Some types of pain relief medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, carry an increased risk of bleeding when taken with Citalopram. You should check with your doctor before you take any of these drugs alongside Citalopram. However, it is safe to take Paracetamol with Citalopram.

You must not pass Citalopram on to anyone else, even if they experience the same symptoms of depression as you. It may be unsuitable for them, and should only be taken by people to which it has been prescribed.

You must tell your doctor if any of the following apply to you before taking Citalopram:

  • You have a heart problem. It’s possible for Citalopram to cause a fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • If you have had an allergic reaction to Citalopram in the past
  • If you are taking any other type of antidepressant medicine
  • If you have diabetes

Dosage Instructions

You must take Citalopram exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not exceed the stated dose.

The typical daily dose of Citalopram for adults is 20mg. However, it’s possible your doctor may start you on a lower dose and increase to a maximum of 40mg per day.

Citalopram can be taken by children, at a dosage of 10mg per day. It’s possible that your child’s doctor may increase this to up to 40mg per day.

If you have been prescribed liquid oral drops, four drops is the equivalent to a 10mg tablet.

You don’t need to take Citalopram at a specific time, as long as you take it at the same time every day.

You can take Citalopram with or without food. Take your tablets with plenty of water.

Common Side Effects of Citalopram

Citalopram has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in some people. This is rare, but you should immediately seek medical advice if you experience any of the following:

  • Blistering, peeling, itchy skin, or a rash
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the facial area
  • Trouble breathing
  • Tightness in your chest or throat

Citalopram can also cause serious side effects in some patients. You should inform a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Bleeding profusely that doesn’t seem to stop
  • Headaches or trouble concentrating
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Painful erections lasting 4 hours or more (this may happen even if you’re not having sex)
  • Changes in menstrual periods

Note: It’s possible that when you first start taking Citalopram, you may experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts about hurting yourself. It’s known that Citalopram can make you feel worse before it makes you feel better. You should speak with your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Citalopram also has the potential to cause less serious side effects. If you experience any of these, you should not generally stop taking the medication. However, if they are persistent and do not go away, you should consult your doctor. These side effects include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling fatigued or sleepy
  • Inability to sleep or insomnia
  • General feeling of weakness
  • Dry mouth

If you are in any doubt, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist. For more information, refer to the patient information leaflet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Citalopram safe for children?

Yes. Citalopram can be taken as prescribed by children. The initial dosage is usually 10mg per day, although this can be increased following advice from your doctor. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for more information.

Do I need a prescription?

Yes. Citalopram is a prescription only medication. You must have a valid prescription before you buy Citalopram. You should not take Citalopram prescribed for anybody else, nor should you give Citalopram prescribed to you to anyone else.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Citalopram?

There is no definitive answer to this question, however you should not take Citalopram in pregnancy unless it has been specifically prescribed to you and your doctor is aware that you are pregnant. Your doctor may decide that the benefits of taking Citalopram during pregnancy outweigh the risks to your baby.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, simply take the next dose at your regular time. Skip the missed dose, and do not double up to make up for a missed dose.

What happens if I take too much?

If you take too much Citalopram, it can lead to various side effects including vomiting, feeling fatigued or tired, shaking, seizures and an irregular heartbeat. Talk to your doctor straight away if you think you have overdosed on Citalopram.

More Information
Dosage Instructions Please see medicine label for the dosage instructions.