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Citalopram Side Effects


Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drug that is used for the management of depression. Those taking antidepressant medications or other psychoactive medications are concerned about their side effects because they apparently cause various effects. Side effects of citalopram are also vast and may involve various systems. When taking citalopram, it is important to understand its mechanism of action, uses, and side effects in order to have full knowledge and increased participation in the therapy.

citalopram side effects

Citalopram is indicated primarily for major depression, but it can also be prescribed for people with the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Pots stoke pathological crying
  • Migraines
  • Management of hot flushes

Citalopram is taken daily as one dose in the morning or in the evening. Citalopram is advantageous over other antidepressant medications because it has minimal drug interactions; thereby it can be safely used in patients with other co morbid conditions.

Citalopram exerts its effects by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin; thereby increasing free serotonin that may bind to 5HT3 receptors in the brain. People with depression are believed to have limited serotonin in the brain. Taking citalopram increases the free serotonin that may bind to the receptor sites, thereby producing desired effects.

Side effects of Citalopram

The side effects of citalopram are commonly caused by the same mechanism of action of the drug. Side effects may include:

1. Nausea

Nausea is a common side effect of citalopram. This occurs due to the binding of the serotonin on the 5HT3 receptors in the digestive tract. The 5HT3 receptors are known to stimulate vomiting when serotonin binds with them. This side effect of citalopram usually subsides after several days of treatment because the body has already adjusted to the medication. Nausea may also be reduced by taking the drug with food. This side effect of citalopram may also be a swine flu vaccine side-effect as well as side effect of other medications.

2. Sexual dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction is also a common side effect of citalopram. There are various conditions that may be experienced such as lack of interest in sex, difficulty becoming aroused, trouble achieving orgasm or anorgasmia, decreased sexual stimuli response, genital anesthesia and ejaculatory anhedonia. These are common side effects of citalopram that may persist up to months or years of discontinuing the drug. This condition is termed as Post SSRI sexual dysfunction.

3. Flat affect and apathy

These emotional side effects of citalopram are due to the decreased dopamine in the brain. As serotonin increases, the levels of dopamine in the CNS also decrease. Because of this, patients may experience mood flattening.

4. Sedation

Citalopram also has antihistamine effects. When citalopram binds to the receptor sites, it usually exerts antihistamine effects leading to sedation. When sedation occurs, it is best taken in the evening to prevent alteration of day time activities.

5. Suicidal ideations

Most of the antidepressant medications may lead to the occurrence of suicidal thinking especially in patients less than 24 years of age. This side effect of citalopram is traced at increased energy levels and vivid thinking of depressed clients in order to undertake suicide. During times of depression, patients usually lack the will and energy to undertake a suicide. Once the drug takes its effect, there is sudden increase in urge to do suicide. Due to this, it is advised that depressed patients taking citalopram be monitored during the first weeks to months of therapy.

6. Cardiac arrhythmias

Cardiac arrhythmias are also possible side effects of citalopram. Due to this, it is indicated by the FDA that citalopram should not be taken for more than 40 mg per day because of increased risk for life-threatening arrhythmias.

Other side effects of citalopram that tend to be uncommon include increased blood pressure, bruxism or grinding of the teeth at night, dizziness, headache, anxiety, dilated pupils, hallucinations and convulsions. Allergic reactions may also develop to those hypersensitive to the drug. Stopping citalopram may also cause side effects such as SSRI discontinuation syndromes, a condition similar to drug withdrawal. In order to prevent this and other side effects of citalopram, always take the medication as prescribed and never increase and lower the dosage on your own.

The side effects of citalopram may be mild, but intake of more than the enough dosages usually leads to mores severe side effects.

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