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Citalopram: What Long-Term Effects Should You Know About?

CitalopramCitalopram is one of the antidepressant medications prescribed often. It is in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. The prescription name for Citalopram is Celexa. It can be prescribed for eating disorders, social phobia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, panic disorder, alcoholism, and depression. This type of medication will alter serotonin levels in the user’s brain to stabilize them. For most people, this medication takes 1 to 4 weeks to reach maximum effectiveness.

While most people don’t abuse this medication, those who struggle with addictive tendencies have. There are also some short-term and long-term effects from taking Citalopram.

Short-Term Side Effects of Citalopram

As mentioned, there are some short-term effects someone may experience when taking Citalopram. These short-term effects may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Libido changes
  • Frequent urination
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

This medication can also cause serotonin syndrome. This is a condition that is much more common when Citalopram is used with any tricyclic antidepressants. These include medications such as St. John’s wort, amphetamines, buspirone, tryptophan, tramadol, lithium, and fentanyl. If someone has this condition, they need to get immediately emergency medical help.

Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome

It is important to know more about the symptoms of serotonin syndrome. If the following symptoms are recognized, 9-1-1 should be called right away:

  • Delirium
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Physical coordination issues
  • Muscle spasms
  • Rigid muscles
  • Seizures
  • Feeling restless

Serotonin syndrome is a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical help.

Long-Term Side Effects of Citalopram

The majority of people who are prescribed Citalopram take it for around 6 months. However, some people may be on this medication for around 9 months. Using antidepressants long-term can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In addition, higher doses of SSRIs can lead to abnormalities of the heart. Research has shown Citalopram, at the higher dosages, have led to more electrical abnormalities than at lower dosages. Someone with a pre-existing or current heart issue should talk to their primary care doctor before using this medication.

Some of the other long-term side effects of Citalopram use include the following:

  • Blood clotting issues
  • Decreased serotonin in the blood platelets
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Bleeding in uterus

If you use NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or aspirin, along with an SSRI, these risks will be increased.

As previously mentioned, Citalopram can reduce libido and cause performance issues as well. This can occur in both women and men. Patients can speak with their doctor about getting a lower dosage if side effects bother them. There are other medications that may not cause these side effects.

In rare instances, elderly patients who are taking this medication may experience the following:

  • Akathisia
  • Parkinsonism
  • Dyskinesia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tics
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain
  • Severely low sodium levels
  • Breathing issues
  • Disorientation
  • Tiredness
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Coma

There are medications that can combat some of these side effects. If you are experiencing side effects that are bothersome, you can speak with your doctor.

Long-Term Citalopram Abuse Psychological Changes

Psycological ChangesSome of those who take this medication may find it less effective once they have been taking it for months or even years. When prescribed this medication, taking it exactly as the prescription is written, will create the best effects and results. If someone does not take Citalopram as prescribed, depression symptoms could worsen. When taking this medication, if it becomes less effective, the patient should speak to their doctor about dosage or medication changes.

It is also important to know that some people who take an SSRI may feel suicidal. Those who are under the age of 25 and taking this medication have the highest risk of this happening. There are many things that could cause the increased depression. Bipolar disorder is one of the reasons this could occur. If you are prescribed this medication, you should keep in contact with your doctor. Let them know how you are doing and whether you are feeling suicidal.

Mixing Alcohol with Citalopram

While Citalopram will not increase alcohol effects, consuming alcohol while on this medication can worsen side effects you experience from it. Research has shown that alcohol intolerance often occurs when someone is drinking while taking Citalopram. Someone who is drinking and taking this medication may experience skin flushing or stuffy nose. They may have worsened depression as well.

Symptoms of Citalopram Withdrawal

Now that you know more about Citalopram side effects, it is important to know about the withdrawal from this medication as well. Nobody should stop taking Citalopram immediately. This can greatly increase the symptoms of withdrawal. Some of these symptoms could be extreme as well. Withdrawal symptoms you should know about when going off from Citalopram include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of electrical shock
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia or other sleep issues

If someone wants to stop taking this medication, they should speak with their doctor about doing so. The doctor can set up a tapering schedule to reduce the chances and risks of withdrawal symptoms.

If you have been abusing Citalopram or just want help to get off this medication, there are treatment programs to help. Sometimes, even if someone isn’t abusing this medication, it can take a lot to wean off from it. The symptoms of withdrawal can be severe. Addiction rehab centers, medical professionals, therapists, and others are available to help you stop taking Citalopram.

There are many medications which can be prescribed to treat depression. Citalopram is one that is prescribed often. If you have depression or feelings of depression, it is important to talk with your doctor or someone in the mental health field. They can speak to you about your options and whether this medication may be one that will work for you. Antidepressants are often more effective when also talking to a counselor.

Depression is a serious condition. If you are experiencing depression, be sure to seek out help right away. You don’t have to do it alone.