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  • Celexa (Citalopram) Half Life | How Long Does Celexa Stay In Your System?

    Celexa Half Life | How Long Does Celexa Stay In Your System?

    On average, Celexa stays in your system for about 7 days after the last dose. Citalopram, the generic name for Celexa, has a half-life of about 35 hours. Half-life is the amount of time it takes for a drug to drop to half its maximum concentration after taking it.

    Before the 35-hour mark, Celexa concentrations will likely be highest in the body. Celexa’s long half-life can constantly work against symptoms of major depressive disorder since it will be in your body for more than a day at a time.

    Over time, Celexa can increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to mood stability. Celexa is not commonly abused, so drug tests likely do not test for citalopram or its metabolites.

    How Half-Life Works For SSRIs

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are most effective when they have a steady concentration in your bloodstream. Since Celexa has a long half-life and is taken daily, part of the last dose will likely still be in your body when it is time for your next dose.

    SSRis often take several weeks to start increasing serotonin levels. Citalopram hydrobromide is slowly broken down through enzymes in the liver after reaching maximum concentration. Celexa and its metabolites, or unique components, mostly end up in urine after leaving the bloodstream.

    Nursing mothers can also have Celexa end up in breast milk, which can be ingested by breastfeeding infants. Citalopram’s half-life is comparable to other SSRIs. Paroxetine has a half-life of 24 hours, while escitalopram has a half-life of about 30 hours.

    Half-Life & The Effects Of Citalopram

    After taking a dose of Celexa, you can expect to feel the benefits of the antidepressant drug, but also potential side effects

    Common side effects of Celexa include dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea, sleeping problems, and sexual dysfunction. These effects may last more than a day after your last dose.

    More serotonin in the body can be more helpful for the treatment of depression. However, if Celexa takes too long to leave the body, serotonin can build up and cause serious side effects.

    Abnormally high levels of serotonin can lead to an adverse effect known as serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome can affect the nervous system and many different body functions. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include high blood pressure, sweating, hallucinations, and coma.

    Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

    Antidepressant withdrawal may also be called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Symptoms may start around the time citalopram completely leaves the body, which can take around a week.

    Withdrawal symptoms of Celexa include tiredness, headache, sweating, light-headedness, and mood swings. Symptoms are usually seen as uncomfortable but treatable.

    Tapering is sometimes suggested to manage antidepressant withdrawal. Tapering refers to reducing the dose over time, so your body can ease off the drug instead of quitting it all at once.

    Drug Tests For Celexa

    Celexa is likely not tested for in drug tests. Drug tests look for signs of substance abuse. If a healthcare provider is monitoring your antidepressant use plan, it may be for side effects like serotonin syndrome, heart arrhythmia, or hepatic impairment.

    Some antidepressants, like venlafaxine or sertraline, can cause false positives for amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and LSD on drug tests. There is currently no evidence that citalopram can cause a false positive drug test, even though it is an SSRI like sertraline.

    If you are looking to pass a drug test for an employer or healthcare provider, you may need to consider being careful about taking antidepressant medication.

    Treatment For Substance Use & Mental Health Problems

    Celexa’s half-life is around 35 hours in most patients, but other factors play into how a dose of Celexa affects your body. 

    Mixing Celexa with tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can lead to an increased risk of serotonin syndrome, even in a recommended dose.

    SSRIs may not be recommended for use in patients with a history of suicidal thinking, hypersensitivity to antidepressants, or substance abuse. 

    If you feel like SSRI use is making your mental health or substance abuse problems worse, you may benefit from a professional treatment program.

    To find treatment for comorbid substance abuse and mental health conditions, please contact our helpline today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Canadian Medical Association Journal - Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome
    Food and Drug Administration - Citalopram Celexa
    Harvard Health Publishing - Going Off Antidepressants
    National Library of Medicine: PubMed - Kinetics of citalopram in elderly patients
    National Library of Medicine: PubMed - PharmGKB summary: citalopram pharmacokinetics pathway

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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