Updated 11 February 2013


Citalopram is an antidepressant drug prescribed for the treatment of depression and associated anxiety/panic disorders.


Citalopram is the active ingredient of Austell-Citalopram, Cilift, Cipramil, CitaloHexal, Depramil, Merck-Citalopram, Ran-Citalopram, Sandoz Citalopram and Talomil.

General Information

Citalopram is an antidepressant drug prescribed for the treatment of depression and associated anxiety/panic disorders. It is of particular use in patients with ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, worthlessness, hopelessness, fatigue, pessimism and difficulty dealing with normal daily life

Citalopram, and products related to it, is as effective as other, older groups of antidepressants with the advantage of fewer side effects and drug interactions. It also does not lead to the same weight gain that is seen when these older types of antidepressants are used.

It may take several weeks for the full benefit of citalopram to be achieved. During this period it is important to continue taking the medication.

How does citalopram work?

Citalopram is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), meaning that it increases the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Increased levels of serotonin are associated with an improvement in emotion, mood and mental state.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 5

Available as: Citalopram is available as tablets

What does it do? Citalopram has an anti-depressant action

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependence risk: Low

Is citalopram available as a generic? Yes

Is citalopram available on prescription only? Yes

User information

Onset of effect: Full benefit should be experienced within 14 - 28 days.

Stopping this medicine: Citalopram should not be stopped abruptly. Sudden discontinuation may cause symptoms to recur. The dosage of citalopram should be gradually reduced according to the advice of your doctor.

Prolonged use: Risks with prolonged use are small if medication is used as recommended. Citalopram is generally only used for 6-12 months at a time.

Special precautions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver or kidney disease
  • you have epilepsy
  • you have bipolar disorder
  • you have a heart condition
  • you are taking, or have taken other medication in the last 14 days.

Pregnancy: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication have not been established for children under the age of 18.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly, as adverse effects may be more likely. A reduced dose is advised.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised, as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases

Sexual dysfunction



Dry mouth






Diarrhoea/ constipation









Dizziness/ drowsiness



Skin rash






Chest pain/ irregular heartbeat




Drug interactions

Beta blockers

Increased chance of beta blocker toxicity

Verapamil, Nifedipine

Increased side effects of vasodilators

Potential sedative substances e.g. Alcohol, antihistamines, benzodiazepines

Enhanced effect on central nervous system

Oral medication for diabetes

Blood sugar may drop soon after taking SSRI.


Potential risk of Lithium toxicity

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor

High blood pressure, convulsion. Allow 5 weeks between drugs.


Unusual movement disorders


Increased risk of serotonin toxicity

Buspirone, clomipramine, other SSRI's, pethidine, tricyclic antidepressants

Increased risk of serotonin toxicity


Potential warfarin toxicity


Potential terfenadine toxicity

Disease interactions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if you have liver or kidney disease, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, or if you have a heart condition.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include dizziness, sweating and a rapid heartbeat.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 10-60 mg once daily

Interesting fact

Citalopram has been found to significantly reduce premature ejaculation.


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