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  • Using Celexa (Citalopram) To Treat Anxiety & Stress

    Published on October 20, 2021
    Using Celexa (Citalopram) To Treat Anxiety & Stress

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of prescription drugs used as antidepressant medications, especially in cases of major depressive disorder. 

    SSRIs, however, are also commonly used to treat a wide range of other conditions related to mental balance and function. 

    One such SSRI, known as citalopram or its brand name version Celexa, is sometimes prescribed off-label to help manage symptoms of anxiety stemming from:

    Celexa’s Therapeutic Effects On Mental Health

    Like other SSRIs, including escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft), Celexa works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. 

    SSRIs do this by blocking/inhibiting the reabsorption/reuptake of this neurotransmitter, effectively boosting a person’s mood and emotional function.

    Because of this mood-altering effect, SSRIs like Celexa have been investigated as a treatment for many conditions including anxiety and panic disorders. 

    Celexa likely has certain beneficial effects when used to treat a wide range of different medical conditions related to mental health, including stress and anxiety.

    Those who use Celexa generally report that it helps them reduce irrational feelings of anxiety and stress that might otherwise make it impossible to perform or enjoy normal daily activities.

    Citalopram Side Effects

    It can take several weeks for Celexa to take full effect after a person begins taking it. It’s also common for those taking Celexa to experience a number of different side effects

    These side effects are likely mild and improve as the body adapts to the new medication, though they can be worsened by taking Celexa improperly or mixing it with certain other substances. 

    If you notice your side effects worsening over time, or if you experience more adverse effects like worsened stress levels, your healthcare provider may switch you to a different antidepressant or adjust your dosage until you find the right solution for you.

    Common Side Effects

    Common side effects associated with Celexa may include:

    • dry mouth
    • nausea
    • trouble sleeping or vivid dreams
    • frequent urination
    • changes in appetite and weight gain or loss
    • constipation or diarrhea 
    • drowsiness or tiredness
    • excessive yawning
    • ringing in the ears
    • lightheadedness
    • increased sweating or urination
    • stuffy nose
    • sexual side effects, including decreased sex drive, difficulty orgasming, and impotence

    Serious Side Effects

    Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following serious and uncommon side effects after taking Celexa:

    • dilated pupils
    • allergic reaction (swelling, hives, rash, difficulty swallowing, or breathing difficulties)
    • hallucinations
    • confusion
    • nausea and vomiting
    • seizures
    • severe nervousness, anxiety, or mood changes
    • rapid heart rate
    • hyperactivity
    • an increase in suicidal thoughts or impulses

    Serotonin Syndrome

    While a limited increase in serotonin can be helpful, increasing serotonin levels too much can trigger a dangerous medical condition known as serotonin syndrome. 

    Serotonin syndrome occurs as a result of drug interactions between two or more serotoninergic (serotonin-increasing) substances, potentially including SSRIs, other antidepressants (tricyclic antidepressants or SNRIs), St. John’s Wort, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tryptophan, and others. 

    Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome can include:

    • agitation
    • confusion
    • high blood pressure
    • elevated heart rate
    • heavy sweating
    • headache
    • muscle stiffness or twitching
    • shivering
    • goosebumps
    • fever

    Serotonin syndrome can be extremely dangerous. Contact your healthcare provider if you or a loved one begin experiencing these symptoms after taking Celexa. 

    Potential Drug Interactions & Cautions

    SSRIs may increase your risk of bleeding, especially gastrointestinal bleeding. 

    They should be used with caution by those using other medications that also increase this risk, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin, warfarin, or blood thinners.

    MAOIs & MAO Inhibitors

    You should not switch between Celexa and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs or MAO inhibitors) without waiting for at least 14 days.

    Interactions between these drugs can be severe or life-threatening. MAOIs include isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Emsam), and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

    Celexa is not prescribed to children and should not be used by nursing mothers, as it passes into breast milk and may harm infants.

    Medical Conditions

    Those with a history of stroke, seizures, bipolar disorder, mania, bleeding problems, low sodium, and heart, kidney, or liver problems should use Celexa with caution, as adverse effects are possible.

    Celexa Discontinuation Syndrome

    Celexa is generally safe and well-tolerated even with long-term use, even for anxiety or stress. 

    However, when you stop taking Celexa you may experience withdrawal symptoms known as discontinuation syndrome, which can cause feelings of illness, insomnia, nausea, imbalance, sensory disturbances, and hyperarousal. 

    To avoid these symptoms, healthcare providers will likely taper down Celexa doses over time before discontinuing the medication entirely.

    If you struggle with any form of substance abuse, please contact us today.

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

    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Celexa Label
    Mayo Clinic - Citalopram (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Citalopram

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