If you’re looking at treatment options for depression, your doctor might suggest Celexa (citalopram) for your condition. It’s a prescription medication used to treat depression in adults.

Celexa comes as a tablet you take by mouth. It’s typically used as a long-term treatment. For more information about Celexa, see this in-depth article on the drug.

Like other drugs, Celexa can cause mild or serious side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

Some people may experience mild or serious side effects during Celexa treatment. Examples of Celexa’s commonly reported side effects may include:

See below for other possible mild and serious side effects of Celexa.

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

Celexa may cause mild side effects for some people.

Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Celexa include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.
† In this article, we use the terms “female” and “male” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. Some may be easily managed, too. But if you have any symptoms that are ongoing or that bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And don’t stop taking Celexa unless your doctor recommends it.

Celexa may cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. See the Celexa medication guide for details.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Celexa, visit MedWatch.

In rare cases, serious side effects can happen with Celexa. Serious side effects that have been reported with Celexa include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Celexa, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* Celexa has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† To learn more about this side effect, see “Will I experience withdrawal side effects if I stop Celexa treatment?” in the “FAQs about Celexa’s side effects” section below.
‡ An allergic reaction is possible after taking Celexa. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies of the drug. To learn more about this side effect, see “Side effects explained” below.

Celexa isn’t approved for use in children. But in some cases, the drug may be used off-label to treat depression in children. Off-label drug use means using a drug for a purpose other than what it’s been approved for by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If you have questions about your child possibly taking Celexa, talk with their doctor.

It’s important to note that Celexa has a boxed warning for the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and young adults (ages 18 to 24 years). A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

For details, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Celexa’s side effects.

Do I have a higher risk of side effects during my first week of taking Celexa?

Yes, you may have a higher risk of certain side effects during your first week of taking Celexa.

For example, your risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors* with Celexa is highest right after you start taking the drug.

To lower your risk of side effects from Celexa, your doctor will start by prescribing a low dosage of the drug. They may increase your dosage slowly over time until the symptoms of your condition begin to ease. For dosage details, see this in-depth article on the drug.

* Celexa has a boxed warning for this side effect. To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Will I experience withdrawal side effects if I stop Celexa treatment?

Yes, you may have withdrawal side effects if you suddenly stop Celexa treatment.

Withdrawal side effects are symptoms that can happen when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on. Examples of withdrawal side effects that can occur with Celexa include:

You shouldn’t stop taking Celexa unless your doctor tells you it’s safe to do so. When it’s time for you to stop taking Celexa, your doctor will lower your dosage gradually over time. This helps lower your risk of withdrawal side effects after you end Celexa treatment.

Does Celexa cause any long-term side effects?

Possibly. Most side effects of Celexa will get better or go away within hours or days of taking the drug. But in rare cases, side effects of Celexa may last longer.

For example, there have been reports of sexual problems* from antidepressants (such as Celexa) lasting for several weeks or months after treatment was stopped. These long-term sexual problems were reported after the antidepressant drugs were released onto the market.

Since Celexa was approved, an abnormal heart rhythm (a rare side effect) has been reported as causing long-term, life threatening heart problems in extremely rare cases.

If you have questions about what to expect with Celexa treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* To learn more about sexual problems with Celexa, see “Side effects explained” below.

Do Celexa’s side effects vary depending on the strength I take (10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg)?

Yes, Celexa’s side effects can vary depending on the strength of the drug you take.

For example, your risk of an abnormal heart rhythm from Celexa is greater if you take higher doses of the drug.

If you have questions about your risk of certain side effects from Celexa or about which strength is right for your condition, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How long do side effects from Celexa typically last?

Most side effects of Celexa last only a few hours to a few days after you start treatment. But the length of time that side effects from the drug last can be different for each person taking Celexa.

For more details about what to expect with Celexa treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more about some of the side effects Celexa may cause.

Sexual problems in females and males

Sexual problems are a common side effect of Celexa. These side effects can happen in both females* and males* taking the drug.

Sexual problems in males taking Celexa may include:

Sexual problems in females taking Celexa may include:

Keep in mind that depression, which Celexa is used to treat, can also cause sexual problems. So it may be hard to tell if these side effects are caused by Celexa or the condition you’re taking the drug to treat.

* In this article, we use the terms “female” and “male” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

What might help

If you experience sexual problems while taking Celexa, talk with your doctor. They can help determine if these side effects may be from your condition or from the drug.

Weight gain or weight loss

Weight gain and weight loss are common side effects of Celexa. But some weight changes may not be caused by Celexa itself. Depression, which Celexa is used to treat, may also cause weight changes. So experiencing weight changes after you start taking Celexa could be a sign of the drug working to treat your condition.

What might help

If you’re concerned about weight gain or weight loss while taking Celexa, talk with your doctor. They can suggest ways to manage your weight during treatment.

Insomnia (trouble sleeping)

Insomnia is a common side effect of Celexa. The drug may also cause other sleep-related problems in some people. For example, instead of insomnia, you may feel drowsy after taking Celexa.

You’ll usually know more about how Celexa affects you after you’ve taken several doses of the drug.

What might help

If you’re concerned about insomnia or other sleep problems from Celexa, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to manage this side effect.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and young adults

Celexa has a boxed warning for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This risk affects children and young adults (ages 18 to 24 years old) who take antidepressants such as Celexa. It’s important to note that Celexa is not approved for use in people younger than age 18 years.

Regardless of age, this risk is highest during the first few months of treatment and after any dosage changes.

While you’re taking Celexa, you should watch for the following symptoms:

It’s important to note that suicidal thoughts and behaviors could also be symptoms of depression, which Celexa is used to treat.

What might help

Tell your doctor right away if you have any unusual changes in moods, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings while you’re taking Celexa. They may have you stop taking Celexa and switch to a different drug to treat your condition.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Celexa can cause an allergic reaction in some people. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of the drug. But allergic reaction has been reported since Celexa became available for use.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), or a topical product, such as hydrocortisone cream, to manage your symptoms.

If your doctor confirms you had a mild allergic reaction to Celexa, they’ll decide if you should continue taking it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Celexa, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Celexa treatment, consider keeping notes on any side effects you’re having. Then, you can share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful to do when you first start taking new drugs or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon after starting that dose you had the side effect
  • what your symptoms were from the side effect
  • how it affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were also taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help your doctor learn more about how Celexa affects you. Your doctor can use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

In certain situations, it may not be safe to take Celexa. Read on to learn more about possible warnings for Celexa.

Boxed warning: Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and young adults

Celexa has a boxed warning for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This risk affects children and young adults (ages 18 to 24 years) who take antidepressants such as Celexa. It’s important to note that Celexa is not approved for use in people younger than age 18 years.

To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section above.

Other warnings

Celexa may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Celexa. The list below includes factors to consider.

Angle-closure glaucoma. Before starting Celexa treatment, tell your doctor if you have angle-closure glaucoma. The drug can raise your risk of a glaucoma attack (sudden worsening of glaucoma that leads to blurry vision and eye pain). If you have these symptoms while taking Celexa, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Bipolar disorder. Celexa may cause hypomania or mania (episodes of high energy and excitement that may be related to bipolar disorder). Before taking Celexa, tell your doctor if you have bipolar disorder. They may prescribe a drug other than Celexa for your condition.

Bleeding problems. Celexa may raise your risk of bleeding. If you already have bleeding problems, your risk of this side effect may be even higher. Before taking Celexa, tell your doctor if you have any bleeding problems.

Heart problems. Celexa can cause abnormal heart rhythms. You may have a higher risk of this side effect if you already have heart problems. Before taking Celexa, tell your doctor about any heart problems you have, such as heart failure or a recent heart attack.

Liver or kidney problems. If you have liver or kidney problems, your body may have trouble clearing Celexa from your system. This could raise your risk of side effects from the drug. Before you take Celexa, tell your doctor about any liver or kidney problems you have.

Low level of sodium in your blood. Celexa can cause a low level of sodium in your blood. If you already have a low sodium level, talk with your doctor before starting Celexa.

Seizures. Celexa may cause seizures. If you already have seizures before taking the drug, your risk of this side effect with Celexa may be even higher. Before you take Celexa, tell your doctor if you have seizures.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Celexa or any of its ingredients, your doctor likely won’t prescribe Celexa. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for your condition.

Use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs are a group of drugs used to treat depression. Before starting Celexa, tell your doctor if you take an MAOI. Taking these drugs together can raise your risk of serotonin syndrome. Because of this, you should not take Celexa if you’re taking an MAOI. Your doctor will have you wait 2 weeks or more after you’ve stopped taking an MAOI before having you start Celexa. And if you stop taking Celexa, your doctor will have you wait at least 2 weeks before starting an MAOI.

Alcohol use and Celexa

It’s recommended that you avoid alcohol while taking Celexa. Drinking alcohol during Celexa treatment can cause you to have trouble thinking clearly or coordinating your muscle movements.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor before taking Celexa.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Celexa

It may not be safe to take Celexa during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or to breastfeed, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Celexa.

Celexa is used to treat depression in adults. Some people who take Celexa may experience mild side effects. In rare cases, serious side effects can also occur.

If you have questions about Celexa’s side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Here are a few questions you may want to ask:

  • How do Celexa’s side effects compare with those of similar drugs, such as Lexapro (escitalopram)?
  • How can I manage the side effects I might have with Celexa?
  • Are there other health conditions I have that might raise my risk of side effects with Celexa?
  • Are there any side effects of Celexa that I should tell you about right away?

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.