Citalopram: What is it? Uses, precautions and side effects

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One of the most important elements for the functioning of the cardiovascular system is serotonin. It is produced by the body itself. But, due to different conditions, its quantity may decrease. That is why some drugs have been manufactured to control its presence. One of them is citalopram.

In this article we are going to point out the benefits that can be obtained by consuming this drug. In addition, we are going to know what are the risks, if any, related to its intake.


what is citalopram?

  • Molar mass: 324.392 g/mol
  • Trade name: See listCelexa®, Seropram®; Talpram®; Prisdal®; Zentius®; Cipramil®
  • Half-life: 35 h
  • Formula: C20H21N2FO
  • (RS)-1–1–1- (4-fluorophenyl)-1,3-dihydroisobenzofuran-5-carbonitrile: (RS)-1–1-; (4-fluorophenyl)-1,3-dihydroisobenzofuran-5-carbonitrile
  • Mole. weight: 324.392 g/mol
  • Excretion: Mostly as citalopram, partly DCT and unmetabolized traces of DDCT in the urine

Citalopram is a drug that is part of the SSRI group. This means that it inhibits the body from a process known as serotonin reuptake. Thanks to this mechanism it is possible to maintain the right amount of this element in the brain.

Serotonin is vital for normal brain functions. In addition to preventing its elimination, it has been found that citalopram can stimulate its production. Since one of the main attributions of serotonin is to reduce depression, it is beneficial for patients suffering from depression to take citalopram

It was created in 1989. Since then it has been used in a large number of treatments related to nervous system disorders. Since it is a chemical compound, it can be manufactured in a laboratory. The chemical formula is C20H21N2FO.

how is citalopram used?

Once consumed, the effect of citalopram can take about 4 hours. Even so, its bioavailability is 80%, in most cases. After a day and a half in the body, it will have fulfilled its function. At that time, it is naturally expelled by the body itself. Citalopram is available in both tablets and solution for oral use

The U.S. National Library of Medicine mentions some points to consider regarding its use. For example, the dose should not exceed 20 mg daily, unless medically indicated. Positive results may appear up to one month after starting treatment, which should always be completed. It also highlights the results in the face of different conditions.

Depression and similar conditions

Citalopram is mainly indicated to control depression. It is also indicated in patients with social anxiety, panic and OCD. Due to the strong effect it causes when ingested, it is mandatory that a health specialist prescribes it. The good results, both in studies and in people, endorse it as an excellent option.


After two experiments carried out in 2014, first in mice and then in people, a reduction of more than 37% of the element considered the main responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s was obtained. Even so, worldwide recognized medical organizations, such as PAHO and WHO point out that more studies are required in this area.


In 2009, a study was conducted to determine whether citalopram improved the health of autistic children. Sadly, the results were not positive. On the contrary, many negative side effects were observed. For that reason it was ruled out for people with this condition.

Other conditions

Citalopram has been used to treat a wide variety of health problems, including migraine, premature ejaculation and diabetes associated with nervous system function. But, in each of these cases better pharmaceutical options were found.

Precautions when using citalopram

As would be done with any other medication, it is necessary to take the necessary precautions so as not to take risks when using citalopram. The Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products mentions some of these measures.

  • Medical attention. It is necessary to see a doctor before starting treatment with citalopram. It should be one of them who prescribes it.
  • Know the drug. Since it has many components, it is necessary to read the label and investigate if necessary. This avoids the risk of allergic reactions.
  • Conditions. Some diseases could be aggravated if citalopram is consumed. Your doctor should be informed of all your conditions.
  • Dosage. It is very important not to change the prescribed amount at any time. The doctor’s instructions must be followed to the letter.
  • Combination with other drugs. The doctor must know which drugs you have taken, or are taking. Some may alter the effect of citalopram, such as MAOIs.
  • Operation of machines. It is advisable not to drive any kind of vehicle during treatment.
  • Brushing. As citalopram dries the mouth, it could cause cavities. The medical recommendation is to brush your teeth more frequently
  • Mode of ingestion. Due to their size, they should always be consumed with water. It is not recommended to bite the tablet.

Side effects and contraindications of citalopram

Citalopram can cause several negative effects after its intake. In this regard, different health organizations in the United States and Europe agree on the ones mentioned below.

  • Mental problems. Some people have presented confusion, agitation, anxiety, hallucinations or nervousness.
  • Muscular disorders. Tremors, joint pains and numbness in some parts of the body.
  • General malaise. Some patients suffer from dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and extreme tiredness
  • Skin problems. Rashes and itching often appear, even on the face
  • Stomach problems. There may be loss of appetite, ulcers and bleeding.

Some people may lose weight during treatment, while others may gain weight. This will depend on whether there is loss of appetite or not. It is also related to the health condition of the person, for example, if he/she has other conditions. In the case of some of the following groups of people, this medicine is contraindicated.

  • Minors. This drug may have reactions contrary to those expected in them. There have been reported cases of suicidal thoughts after its consumption.
  • Pregnant women. In order to protect the fetus, its use should be suspended during pregnancy. It is equally risky for infants.
  • Allergy sufferers. Anyone allergic to its components should avoid it.

Following medical recommendations , much benefit can be obtained from citalopram. Its use has been proven by different health institutions.

Carlos José Belmonte López
Carlos José Belmonte López
Degree in Pharmacy from the University CEU San Pablo and Master's Degree from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid. Doctorate and committed to Human Health

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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