Celexa: What is it, Effects & Treatment

Table of Contents


Celexa is a branded form of citalopram, a medication used for the treatment of depression in adults.

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a type of mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and reduced interest in everyday activities. The pandemic triggered a global increase in depression. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 21 million U.S. adults experienced one or more major depressive episodes in 2020.

We want to help

Let’s setup a call and figure out the best treatment options for you or your loved one. Our detox specialists will get back to you immediately.

Antidepressants like Celexa are the most popular treatment for major depressive disorder.

What is Celexa?

Celexa is a branded version of the antidepressant citalopram prescribed to treat major depressive disorder.

Citalopram is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat conditions including OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), and eating disorders.

Celexa is an SSRI antidepressant. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) work by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is a chemical messenger that plays a key role in regulating mood, emotions, and behavior. It is released by neurons in the brain and helps to transmit signals between nerve cells. After it is released, serotonin is usually reabsorbed by the cells that released it in a process called reuptake.

Celexa works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, meaning that it stays in the spaces between nerve cells in the brain for a longer period of time. This increases the concentration of serotonin in the brain and can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and relieve other symptoms of depression


Celexa is usually taken once daily, either with or without food.

Typically, the initial Celexa dosage prescribed is low and increased gradually over the first few weeks of treatment.

The usual dose of Celexa for depression in adults is as follows:

  • Initial dose: 20mg taken orally once a day
  • Maintenance dose: 20mg to 40mg taken orally once a day
  • Maximum dose: 40mg taken orally once a day

After one week of treatment, the initial Celexa dosage can be increased to 40mg daily. Doses of 60mg per day are not shown to be more effective than doses of 40mg per day. 

In seniors, the recommended dose of Celexa is 20 mg taken orally once a day.

An image of a man who is struggling with the side effects of Celexa use

Celexa Side Effects

Celexa may trigger side effects ranging from mild to severe. Your prescribing physician should give you some information on hope to deal with any side effects that present during therapy.

Common side effects associated with Celexa include:

  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint aches
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Changes to appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Upper respiratory infections

These side effects should dissipate after a few weeks. If they persist or worsen, consult your prescribing physician.

Serious side effects associated with Celexa are rare, but they may occur. These include:

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Worsening anxiety or depression
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Atypical feelings and behaviors
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing use
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Hypomania
  • Mania
  • Increased bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Heart palpitations
  • Allergic reactions
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Seizures

The FDA issues a boxed warning for the risk of suicidal ideation with Celexa. This is the most serious warning issues by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Citalopram and Alcohol

It is advisable to avoid drinking alcohol while taking an antidepressant like Celexa. The medication works partly through its activity in the brain and CNS (central nervous system). The medication may impair thinking and trigger drowsiness. Alcohol can also impact the brain and CNS, leaving you feeling tired. Additionally, drinking alcohol can cloud thinking and impair the ability to drive safely. Combining alcohol and antidepressants intensifies these risks.

Celexa Withdrawal

Abruptly stopping Celexa can make you feel uncomfortable. You may experience withdrawal symptoms that last for days or weeks – see below.

Your healthcare provider can help you gradually reduce your dose before discontinuing use to mitigate these withdrawal symptoms.


Celexa withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depressed mood
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with focus
  • Clouded thinking

Is Celexa Addictive?

SSRI antidepressants like Celexa are not considered addictive in the sense that they do not trigger a euphoric high, and they do not prompt compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

That said, the sustained use of Celexa can lead to the development of physical dependence. This means that your body becomes accustomed to the medication and requires Celexa to function normally.

If you suddenly stop taking Celexa after long-term use, withdrawal symptoms like dizziness, nausea, headaches, and insomnia may present.

An image of California Detox, an addiction treatment facility in Laguna Beach, CA.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment at California Detox

Mood disorders like depression frequently co-occur with addictions to alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit narcotics. At California Detox in Laguna Beach, we provide integrated treatment of both conditions to produce the most positive outcomes.

Many people initiating their recovery find that our supervised medical detox program provides the safest and most comfortable route to inpatient or outpatient treatment. Take advantage of FDA-approved medications and continuous emotional and clinical care while withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. You can then transition into one of these programs:

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for co-occurring disorders)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab programs)

All treatment programs at California Detox offer individualized treatment plans that combine science-based and holistic treatments. These may include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

After completing your treatment program at California Detox in Laguna Beach, you can step down to a less intense form of therapy or move directly into sober living in Southern California. You will leave our luxury beachside rehab equipped with a robust aftercare plan that includes coping techniques, relapse prevention strategies, and ongoing counseling if required. Call admissions right now at 949.694.8305 to kickstart your recovery from addiction and mental health issues.


Celexa works by increasing the level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep. By increasing serotonin levels, Celexa can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and OCD. Common side effects of Celexa include nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness, insomnia, and decreased sex drive. More serious side effects, such as suicidal thoughts, agitation, and seizures, are rare but possible.
Celexa and Xanax are not the same type of medication, and they work differently in the body. Celexa is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant medication that works by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. This can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and alleviate symptoms of depression. Xanax, by contrast, is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), triggering a calming effect on the brain. While both Celexa and Xanax can be used to treat anxiety, they are different types of medication with different mechanisms of action, and they have different potential side effects and risks associated with their use.


Request a Call