Updated on November 13, 2023
6 min read

What Are the Side Effects of Celexa & Why Is It Addictive?

What is Celexa (Citalopram)

Celexa, the brand name of the drug citalopram, is an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). It can also change your brain chemistry to improve mood and reduce anxiety, so medical professionals can use it to treat anxiety disorders.

Celexa is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Serotonin is a chemical in the brain, known as a neurotransmitter, that carries signals between neurons.

The drug prevents the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons, allowing for better transmission of messages in the brain. As a selective inhibitor, Celexa doesn’t affect the levels or activity of other neurotransmitters.

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Celexa Abuse & Addiction Symptoms

The potential for abuse and addiction from taking Celexa needs more extensive study. However, doctors generally agree that it is not an addictive drug.

When you use a drug for an extended period, the body eventually becomes dependent on it to function normally. After stopping use, discontinuation syndrome, or withdrawal-like symptoms, can set in.

Ceasing long-term use of Celexa may result in:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A general feeling of uneasiness
  • Nightmares
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Paresthesias (tingling or prickling sensation on the skin)

How to Avoid Celexa Discontinuation Syndrome?

Discontinuation syndrome most likely occurs after quitting “cold turkey” or abruptly. Tapering or decreasing the dose slowly over time is the best way to prevent adverse effects. 

Tapering helps prevent shock to the body’s systems and minimizes the severity of symptoms. The safest method to stop using Celexa is under the direct care of a medical professional. The mental health conditions treated by the drug are severe and require continued treatment. 


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Dangers & Risks of Celexa

SSRIs are generally safe for most people. However, you should be aware of certain risks associated with taking Celexa. 

These risks include: 

  • Drug interactions
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Increased risk of suicide 

Does Celexa Cause Hyponatremia?

Celexa may cause hyponatremia, a condition where sodium concentration in your blood is too low. SSRIs interfere with the kidneys and normal hormonal processes in the brain, resulting in an imbalance in electrolytes.

Signs of hyponatremia to look out for include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Memory impairment
  • Confusion
  • Muscle cramps, spasms, or weakness
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating

In severe cases, hyponatremia can cause: 

  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Death

Contact medical emergency services immediately if you experience any of the symptoms above. 

Celexa Drug Interaction

Talk to your doctor if you take drugs that increase your risk of bleeding. These include: 

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 
  • Warfarin & other blood thinners
  • Aspirin 

Celexa can contribute to your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and other bleeding problems if combined with these drugs.

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What Else Can You Not Mix With Citalopram?

Do not take Celexa with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These drugs are another type of antidepressant, and when you combine them with Celexa, they can become dangerous.

If you stop using MAOIs, you must wait two weeks before taking Celexa. On the other hand, if you stop using Celexa, you have to wait five weeks before taking an MAOI. 

Serious side effects can occur if the use of the two drugs overlaps, including:

  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures or severe convulsions
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Extremely high blood pressure
  • Stomach or intestinal problems
  • Restlessness
  • High body temperature

What Is Serotonin Syndrome?

Serotonin syndrome is a condition where neurotransmitters accumulate in your body. This most often occurs when two medications that increase serotonin levels are combined. 

Examples include other antidepressants, antipsychotic medication, and drugs that target dopamine receptors in the brain. Signs of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Confusion
  • High fever
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Coma
  • Diarrhea

If you have any of these symptoms, contact emergency medical services immediately. 

Celexa Addiction Treatment

Current research suggests that Celexa is not addictive. Therefore, there is little information on treatment and few resources available. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about possible addiction and have a history of drug abuse. 

Different SSRIs are available to treat various mental health conditions, and switching medication may help. Lexapro is one example of another medicine that you can use.

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Side Effects of Celexa

The most common side effect of Celexa is an improvement in mood for symptoms of depression and anxiety. Other common side effects include:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Headache
  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sexual side effects (difficulty with orgasm and loss of interest in sexual intercourse)
  • Increased sweating

These symptoms will improve over the first week or two of treatment. SSRIs, like Celexa, take four to five weeks to reach a steady state or a constant drug concentration in your blood.

A steady state is when you start to get the full benefits from the drug. It is also important to continue taking Celexa even if you feel well to maintain a steady state and adequately treat your condition.

Celexa can increase suicidal thoughts or actions in children, teenagers, and adults under 25. So the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all antidepressants carry black box warnings, used only for serious safety concerns.

If you start having suicidal thoughts, contact your doctor or emergency medical services immediately. It’s important to remember that the overall goal of antidepressants is to reduce suicide risk over time. 

What Is Celexa Used For Other Than Depression?

Doctors can prescribe Celexa “off-label” to treat various mental health conditions. While these are not FDA-approved uses, your doctor may feel it is the best option and will justify its use.

The off-label mental health conditions that Celexa can treat include: 

  • Social phobia (social anxiety disorder)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Is It Okay To Drink Alcohol While Taking Citalopram?

No, you should never mix Celexa or other antidepressants with alcohol. Alcohol can increase specific side effects of citalopram.

These side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Coordination problems
  • Dizziness

Some people also experience impaired thinking and memory issues. They can lead to severe impairment and increase the risk of overdose. Due to these effects, it is best to talk with your doctor about your history of depression and alcohol use beforehand. 

Why Should You Not Drink Alcohol While Taking Citalopram?

Celexa is not known to increase the effects of alcohol. However, drinking alcohol on antidepressants can make symptoms of depression worse.

You should limit or altogether avoid alcohol while taking citalopram. Also, never drive or operate machinery if you mix the two substances.

What is the Maximum Dosage of Celexa?

The maximum dose per day is typically 40 mg. Celexa is available in tablet form in 10, 20, or 40 milligrams (mg) doses or as a liquid. Adults and older patients with depression take 20 mg once a day in the morning or evening.

Celexa pill


Celexa, or citalopram, is an antidepressant for treating major depressive disorder. It is often considered an off-label medication for various mood disorders and mental health conditions.

Celexa is typically safe to use, but there are still dangerous side effects. Celexa can interact with other drugs and increase the risk of suicide.

Although Celexa isn’t known to be addictive, it can still cause withdrawal symptoms or discontinuation syndrome. You can avoid this by gradually decreasing the dose over time.

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Updated on November 13, 2023

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