What is Citalopram?
Citalopram is a prescriptional medication that is mainly used to treat depression. It may be used alone or in combination for the treatment of depression.
What are the uses of Citalopram?
Citalopram belongs to the category of antidepressant medications.
Serotonin, a natural chemical present in the brain, helps stabilize your mood. Many experts believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels causes depression. Citalopram acts by preventing the uptake of serotonin and increases the level of the same in your brain. It is believed having more serotonin in your brain improves the symptoms of depression. Citalopram can be prescribed in the following conditions;
- Panic disorder (a condition that causes sudden attacks of extreme fear with no cause)
- Eating disorders
- Social Phobia (a condition that causes excessive anxiety while talking to others)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a group of physical and emotional symptoms that occur before the menstrual period each month)
The medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your physician or pharmacist for detailed information.
How do you use Citalopram?
- Take this medicine orally once a day in the morning or evening. It can be taken with or without food or as prescribed by your physician.
- Take this tablet daily at the same time every day.
- Follow all the instructions on the prescription label.
- Do not stop taking this medication abruptly without consulting your doctor.
- Do not take it more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
- Do not stop using it even if you feel well.
Your physician may start you with a low dose and gradually increase your dose. It may take 1-4 weeks before you begin to notice the full benefits of the medication. If You Miss the Dose
- If you happen to miss a dose of Citalopram, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
- However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose.
- Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
What are the side-effects and risks of Citalopram?
Like all other medications, Citalopram may cause side effects. Although it is unlikely to happen in everyone, it is important that you are aware of what could be the possible side effects.
Serious side effects:
- Severe itching of the skin
- Irregular heartbeat, fainting which could be symptoms of a life-threatening condition
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of lips, face, tongue, or throat that causes difficulty in swallowing or breathing
If you experience any of the above symptoms, stop taking medication, and seek medical advice immediately.
If you notice of the below-mentioned symptoms, you should contact your physician immediately as your dose might need to be reduced or stopped;
- If you start having fits (convulsions) for the first time or the frequency of the fits have increased
- If you start experiencing tiredness, confusion, and twitching of muscles. This could be because of low sodium levels (hyponatremia)
- If you experience behavior changes like elated or overexcited
- If you experience high fever, agitation, confusion, trembling, or abrupt contractions of the muscles. This may be signs of a rare condition known as "Serotonin Syndrome."
Very Common side effects:
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Loss of body strength, weakness
- Changes in sleeping pattern
- Increased in sweating
- Dry mouth
Common side effects:
- Decreased sex drive
- Lack of appetite
- Abnormal dreams
- Reduced emotions
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Problems in concentration
- Loss of memory
- Ringing in ears
- Loss of weight
- Prickling of skin
- For women, failing to reach orgasm
- For men, problems with ejaculation and excretion
- Stomach pain
- Increased in saliva
- Pain in muscle and joints
- Blocked nose or runny nose
Uncommon side effects:
- Bruised easily
- Increased weight
- Swelling in arms or legs
- Difficulty in urination
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Loss of hair
- Increased appetite
- Large pupils
- Fast heartbeat
- Slow heartbeat
- Nettle rash
Rare side effects:
- Feeling unwell
- Increased sex drive
- Involuntary movements
- Taste disturbances
Citalopram can, very rarely, increase the risk of bleeding, including stomach or intestinal bleeding. Let your physician know if you vomit blood or develop black or blood-stained stools.
Citalopram takes about two weeks or longer to work, so you may have thoughts of killing or harming yourself. If you have such thoughts at any time, contact your physician immediately or go to the hospital straight away. This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Please consult your doctor to know more about other possible side effects.
Who should not take Citalopram?
Inform your physician if you have the following conditions before starting Citalopram:
- Liver disorders
- Kidney disorder
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Mania or panic disorder
- Bleeding disorder
- If you have a history of bleeding in the stomach or intestine
- Low sodium levels
- Problems with eyes such as Glaucoma
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Low heart rate
- If you experience a fast or irregular heartbeat, collapse, fainting, or dizziness on standing up.
- History of heart attack
Children and adolescents below 18 years should not be prescribed or take Citalopram.
Talk to your doctor before taking Citalopram if:
- You are taking any other medication, are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy.
- You are allergic to Citalopram or any of its ingredients or have any other allergies.
- You are allergic to any other medication.
- You are taking any other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products, or nutritional supplements.
- You are lactose intolerant.
- You are consuming herbal products that have St. John's wort or tryptophan.
Besides, certain medicines may interfere with its working and thus might not be safe to take them together. Some of them are:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as phenelzine, iproniazid, isocarboxazid, nialamide, tranylcypromine. Even if you have finished taking one of the following MAOIs: phenelzine, iproniazid, isocarboxazid, nialamide, or tranylcypromine, you will need to wait for 2 weeks before you start taking your Citalopram tablets.
- Imipramine and desipramine
- Neuroleptics (used in the treatment of schizophrenia)
- Erythromycin IV
This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Citalopram. Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.
When should you not take Citalopram?
You should not take Citalopram if:
- It has passed the expiry date of the medicine printed on the pack.
- The packaging shows signs of tampering
Citalopram does not usually affect the ability to carry out normal daily activities. However, if you feel dizzy or sleepy when you start to take this medicine, you should be careful when driving, operating machinery, or performing jobs that need you to be alert until these effects wear off
Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages during your treatment with Citalopram as it can make the side effects of Citalopram worse.