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Mar 17, 2023

Mental Health


Questions You Should Ask About Citalopram

How Citalopram Works

Citalopram is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These medications work by stopping the reuptake of a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a “happy chemical” and is released to regulate your mood, as well as improve sleep and appetite. When serotonin gets released from one cell in the brain, it goes to another cell to send it a message. After the message has been sent, the serotonin is “re-uptaken” back into the first cell to stop it from sending any more messages.

In certain mood disorders, it’s thought that there may be a dysregulation of serotonin. Therefore, the decrease of reuptake caused by SSRIs allows the serotonin to stay around longer and be able to spend more time signaling for improved mood.

Conditions Citalopram Treats

Citalopram is only approved to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). Therefore, this medication is best for people with isolated depression without other mental health comorbidities. Mental health conditions often come in groups, with anxiety and depression being a very common combination. However, depression does often present on its own. When this is the case, citalopram is a great option.

Side Effects

Side effects of citalopram are very uncommon. A large majority of patients taking citalopram do not experience any side effects, and those that do, often notice the symptoms resolve within a few weeks of starting the medication.

Learn more about the side effects experienced in the first few weeks taking citalopram

When side effects are noticed, they are often mild. The most common side effects of citalopram are:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drowsiness

If you experience any side effects while taking citalopram, make sure to discuss them with your healthcare provider (HCP) to make sure the medication is right for you.

Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Citalopram should be used cautiously in people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Since citalopram crosses from the mother’s blood to the fetus’, there are potential dangers to the growing fetus when exposed to the medication. Animal studies have shown serious health defects to the fetus when given much higher than therapeutic doses. It’s unclear how well this remains true for human pregnancies, as there are not adequate studies in humans. This is because the possible risk to the mother and/or fetus is not worth the possible dangers to create a study.

Citalopram crosses into breastmilk and has been linked to drowsiness and decreased feeding in a newborn. It’s most likely that the infant will recover completely upon discontinuation of the medication, and therefore the risk is potentially minimal. However, it’s once again a conversation to have with your HCP to decide if you should breastfeed while taking citalopram, or if other options may be best for you and your newborn.

Drug Interactions

There are a number of medications that should be either completely avoided or monitored closely while taking citalopram. The medications that must absolutely be avoided due to possibly life-threatening dangers are:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    If you are switching from a MAOI to citalopram, you must wait at least 14 days after discontinuing the MAOI before starting citalopram to ensure there is no overlap of the medication being in your body.
  • Methylene blue
  • Pimozide (an antipsychotic medication)

Other medications may either need to be avoided or closely monitored when taken in combination with citalopram. Examples of these medications include:

  • Triptans (rizatriptan, sumatriptan)
  • Cimetidine
  • Digoxin
  • Lithium

This list is not exhaustive. Because of the large number of medications that interact with citalopram, it is important to disclose all prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins, and natural health products you are taking to your HCP.

How Long Does it Take For Citalopram to Start Working?

It may take 1-4 weeks for citalopram to start having its full effect on your mood. Unfortunately, these first few weeks are also the most likely time period for you to experience side effects of citalopram. Because of this, it’s extremely important to keep taking citalopram for at least 4 weeks (or however long your HCP has told you it will take to take effect) before assessing whether or not the drug is right for you. Unless your side effects are severe or your mental health deteriorates, it’s important to stick with the medication through those first few weeks. If, after those 4 weeks you are still experiencing side effects and/or the medication is not taking effect, it may be best to switch to another antidepressant.

How Much Does Citalopram Cost?

At a typical pharmacy, a 6-month supply of 20 mg citalopram tablets would cost you anywhere from $53 to $355. However, at Marley Drug a 6-month of 20 mg citalopram tablets would cost you $37. In addition, a full 12-month supply would only cost $70. That is less than $6 per month!

How are our prices so low? At Marley Drug we do not use insurance company costs to sell our medication. Instead, we buy our medications directly from medication wholesalers. This way we can cut out the step in the medication process that is usually responsible for massively increasing drug costs: insurance companies. Insurance companies are largely responsible for the high drug costs at most pharmacies, so cutting out this step allows us to price our medications in competition with even the best insurance plans.

To learn more about how you can get your citalopram prescription from Marley Drug, just call us at 1-800-810-7790.

Prices mentioned in this article are based on average retail price at major box chain pharmacy in the U.S. as of August 9, 2022.
  1. Celexa (citalopram) – Access data FDA-Approved Drugs [Internet]. Amended 01/2009; accessed 08/2022].
  2. e-CPS: The Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties: The Canadian Drug Reference for Health Professionals (https://www-e-therapeutics-ca). Accessed 2022-08-09.
  3. Celexa: generic citalopram – GoodRx ( Accessed 2022-08-09.

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