All about citalopram

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Citalopram is a medication approved by the FDA to treat major depressive disorder (depression).

It is sometimes used to treat other conditions, including:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (anxiety)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Poststroke depression

Brand names

Citalopram is available under a variety of different brand names, including:

  • Celexa
  • Ctp
  • Celapram
  • Celica
  • Cipramil
  • Citalo
  • Talam


Citalopram is available as an oral tablet.


Citalopram was first approved for use as a medical treatment in 1998.

Drug class

Citalopram is an antidepressant. It is a particular type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

Mechanism of action

Citalopram works by blocking the action of proteins in the brain called serotonin transporters. When serotonin transporters are deactivated, the amount of available serotonin in the brain increases.

Serotonin is a hormone that is involved in regulating processes such as mood, behavior, appetite, perception, fear and stress. Citalopram may also increase the levels of noradrenaline and dopamine, other hormones that are involved in regulating stress, alertness, attention, mood, and behavior.

Changing the level of these hormones in the brain can therefore have an effect on conditions including depression and anxiety.

What’s the difference between citalopram and other antidepressants?

When determining an appropriate treatment plan, clinicians will consider a variety of factors relevant to the patient, including things like their age, the specific condition(s) they have, other treatments they are already on, and the side effects of the treatment.

Compared to other SSRIs, including sertraline, fluoxetine, and escitalopram, citalopram may be structurally different, may be effective at a different dose, and may be metabolized and excreted differently by the body.

Specifically, citalopram is a similar molecule to escitalopram, but contains a mixture of 2 different structures of this molecule. Because of the structure of citalopram, it may have a different level of effect when compared to escitalopram.

Compared to some other classes of antidepressants, SSRIs like citalopram may have fewer or less severe side effects.

Side effects

It is important to note that there may be increased risk for suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults taking antidepressants for depression or other psychiatric disorders.

Citalopram may also make the heart beat faster or irregularly.

The most common side effect of citalopram is difficulty ejaculating. Some other side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Increased sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Special instructions

Patients taking another type of antidepressant called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOAIs) should not take citalopram.

Patients taking an antipsychotic drug called pimozide should not take citalopram.


  1. Sharbaf Shoar N, Fariba KA, Padhy RK. Citalopram. [Updated 2023 Nov 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan. Available from:
  2. Celexa (citalopram) US Prescribing Information. 2023. Available from:

Olivia Holland
Medical Writer