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Celexa: Dosage, Usage, Side Effects, and More

Katelyn Hagerty

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 9/30/2022

What is Celexa®? If you’ve made it here, you probably already have some idea of what the medication Celexa is, what it does and who it’s for. 

Antidepressant drugs like Celexa have become increasingly more common over the last few decades, as mental healthcare has grown from a sometimes stigmatized field to a far more common and better understood experience. 

Whether you’ve been talking to a healthcare professional about options for mental health treatment, talking to a friend who’s been candid about their medication use or you’re already taking Celexa, it’s normal to want to know more. 

Celexa is a beneficial medication that, when used correctly, can provide a lot of value in the life of someone with mood disorders, psychiatric disorders and mental illness. But there are things you should be aware of before you begin taking this medication. 

We’ll address those concerns in a moment, but before we get into the details, we should cover some basics about what Celexa actually is and what it does. 

What Is Celexa and What Does It Do?

Celexa is the brand-name drug version of citalopram: a member of  the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI: an antidepressant medication used to treat a depressive disorder and other mental health conditions.

SSRIs essentially corral your serotonin supply. Normally, your brain acts like a sort of vacuum cleaner, regularly sucking up any of the neurotransmitter serotonin laying around between your neurons. It’s tidy, but the problem for people with untreated depression is that serotonin is believed to be necessary for your brain to regulate your mood.

Citalopram essentially prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed (hence the reuptake of serotonin part), which means that when you have a “low” day, there’s still a supply of serotonin for your brain to support you with.

It’s a daily medication — SSRIs impact your serotonin levels over time, which means it may take several weeks of consistent use for you to see full results from this medication.

But once you do, its benefits can help.

What Does Celexa Treat?

First and foremost, Celexa is an antidepressant medication, which means that it’s designed for the treatment of depression symptoms associated with mild and severe depression.

In addition to the management of depressive disorders, however, Celexa is also useful in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, alcoholism, panic attacks (and panic disorder), social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and even some neuropathic pain related to diabetes.

There’s also some benefit for men in citalopram — it can reduce the symptoms of premature ejaculation.

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Celexa Dosage: What to Know

With so many conditions to treat, you’ll understand why citalopram is administered in a variety of dosages.

Celex comes in 10mg, 20mg and 40mg tablets and also in the form of a smaller single-dose oral solution.

Typically, your starting doses in most use cases will be the lowest dose considered effective. With Celexa, that means a starting 20mg dose once a day. Now, while that may increase up to 40mg per day at the maximum dose, you might also find that a lesser initial dose is necessary.

Antidepressant doses are typically determined by trial and error. It’s normal to start with a small dose and gradually increase it, and it’s not uncommon for a starter dose to be too big or cause adverse effects, as well. 

This all depends on your unique needs, reactions and brain chemistry.

In some cases, you might also take two smaller doses at different times in the day to reduce side effects associated with this class of medication.

The Side Effects of Celexa

Celexa users may experience many side effects or none, but the potential risk does exist, especially when you first begin taking the medication or during dose increases. 

The good news is that the typical and common symptoms are often manageable. 

Common side effects may include:

In many cases, a larger dose increases the effects felt from adverse reactions. More serious effects may include any of the following:

  • Abnormal hemorrhage

  • Risk of Serotonin syndrome

  • Heart issues

If you experience any of these side effects, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

It’s generally a good rule to talk to your healthcare provider about any potential side effects that you notice, regardless of whether they’re mild or serious. Especially when you’re first adjusting to a new medication, attention to how your body is responding can be important for your long-term health and safety.

That said, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider immediately about increased heart rate, unusual bleeding and anything else that’s causing you discomfort or concern.

The reality is that some of these issues may be dose-dependent, while others may be your body’s reaction to any medication. So, if you’re having issues, lowering your daily dose might not be the best solution.

Likewise, if you’re experiencing adverse effects from Celexa, you shouldn’t discontinue your daily dosage without talking to a healthcare provider, because there may be issues (withdrawal symptoms due to withdrawal syndrome) that come from suddenly discontinuing the medication.

Sudden or abrupt changes in your dosage can cause many of the same gastrointestinal issues we mentioned above, and even some dizziness and shock-like sensations until your body adjusts. 

Taking too much of this medication may lead to a risk for serotonin syndrome, symptoms of which include dizziness, nausea and more — seek medical attention from a healthcare provider if you take more than directed, and seek emergency medical treatment if you experience blurred vision, shortness of breath or abnormal heart rhythms. 

Those issues can sometimes be avoided by working with a healthcare professional to gradually taper your dose. This is why, regardless of why you’re reading this, there’s an obvious next step for you: talking to a professional.

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Celexa: Final Thoughts

Depression in adults can look very different from one adult to the next. 

Your Celexa dosage isn’t necessarily permanent. Medical advice may dictate your dosage be reduced or increased over time, or both, due to drug interactions or allergic reactions. 

These are all decisions that can improve your quality of life, and should be made with the support of a healthcare professional.

Okay, we’ve belabored the point enough, but we’re going to go in one final time: it’s probably time to talk to someone. 

Antidepressant medication dosage isn’t something that’s straightforward or easy to determine, and a healthcare professional can help you adjust and find the right treatment for your unique needs. 

Need to find a provider? Hers’ online therapy and mental health resources are quick and convenient, and they’re available right now. Get your Celexa questions answered today, and get back to enjoying life tomorrow.

3 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Sharbaf Shoar N, Fariba KA, Padhy RK. Citalopram. Updated 2021 Dec 11. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482222/.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Citalopram: Medlineplus drug information. MedlinePlus. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699001.html.
  3. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) Internet. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Citalopram. Updated 2022 Apr 18. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501185/.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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