If you have depression, your medical professional might recommend that you take a prescription drug called Celexa.

Celexa is used to treat depression in adults. It comes as a tablet that you swallow. Typically, it’s taken as a long-term treatment. The active drug in Celexa is citalopram.

As with other drugs, taking Celexa may cause side effects that can be mild or serious. For more information, we encourage you to keep reading. And if you’d like to learn more about Celexa, you can see this overview of the medication.

While taking Celexa, mild or serious side effects may occur.

Here are some examples of side effects commonly reported with Celexa treatment:

These are just a few of the side effects that may occur with Celexa. We recommend that you read on to learn about other mild and serious side effects that the drug may cause.

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.

Side effects in females and males

Most side effects of Celexa are expected to be the same for females* and males* who take the drug.

But in studies of Celexa, sexual side effects were more common in males than females. For details about possible sexual side effects, you can see the “Side effects up close” section below.

Side effects that are specific to females are related to taking Celexa while pregnant or breastfeeding. For details, you can see the “What are the warnings about Celexa?” section below.

If you have questions about your risk of certain side effects, it’s important to talk with your medical professional.

* In this article, we use the terms “female” and “male” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, you can see this article.

You may have mild side effects of Celexa.

Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Celexa include:

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.

In most cases, the mild side effects of Celexa are temporary. Some may be easily managed. But if you have any symptoms that continue or bother you, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional or pharmacist. Also, it’s important that you don’t stop taking Celexa unless your medical professional recommends this.

It’s possible for Celexa to cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. You can see the Celexa medication guide for more information.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a medication, it tracks and reviews side effects of the drug. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Celexa, you can visit MedWatch.

Celexa may cause serious side effects, although most are rare.

Serious side effects that have been reported with Celexa include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Celexa, it’s important to call your medical professional immediately. If you feel that the side effects are life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.
Celexa has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, you can see the “Side effects up close” section below.
‡ An allergic reaction is possible after taking Celexa. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Long-term side effects

For most drugs, including Celexa, side effects generally get better or go away within hours or days of taking the drug. But in rare cases, side effects may last longer.

For example, with antidepressants such as Celexa, there have been reports of sexual side effects* lasting for several weeks or months after the end of the treatment. And other side effects of Celexa, such as an abnormal heart rhythm, may cause long-term damage to your heart.

If you have more questions about what to expect from Celexa treatment, it’s important to talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.

Celexa is not approved for use in children. It could be prescribed off-label* for children, but this isn’t likely. This is because studies have shown that Celexa doesn’t effectively treat depression in children younger than 18 years old.

It’s also important to note that antidepressant drugs such as Celexa can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This mainly applies to children, adolescents, and adults ages 18 to 24 years old. Celexa has a boxed warning about this. The boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks. For details, you can see the “Side effects up close” section below.

Your child’s medical professional can give you more information about Celexa and its potential use in children.

* Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed for a purpose that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the side effects of Celexa.

Do any side effects occur in the first week of Celexa treatment?

Yes, certain side effects may occur during your first week of Celexa treatment.

For example, your risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors* with Celexa is highest right after you start taking the drug.

When you start taking Celexa, your medical professional will prescribe you a low dosage of the drug. This helps lessen your risk of side effects from Celexa. They may slowly increase your dosage over time until the symptoms of your condition have eased.

* Celexa has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, you can see the “Side effects up close” section below.

Can stopping Celexa treatment lead to withdrawal side effects?

Yes, you may experience withdrawal if you suddenly stop taking Celexa.

Below are a few withdrawal side effects that can happen with Celexa:

It’s advised that you do not stop taking Celexa unless your medical professional tells you it’s safe to do so. When they tell you it’s safe to stop taking the drug, they’ll help you slowly lower your dosage over time. This helps lessen your risk of withdrawal symptoms from Celexa.

If you have other questions about Celexa and withdrawal, we suggest that you talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

How long do Celexa side effects last?

Side effects of most drugs tend to get better or go away within hours or days after you start the treatment. But the length of time that side effects of Celexa last can be different for each person.

For more details about possible long-term side effects, you can see the “Which side effects of Celexa are serious?” section above. And for more about what to expect from Celexa treatment, you can talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Are any side effects specific to the 10-mg strength of Celexa?

The side effects of Celexa can vary, depending on the strength of the drug you’re prescribed. But studies of Celexa haven’t found any side effects specific to the 10-milligram (mg) strength.

But your risk of certain side effects may increase as your dosage of Celexa increases. These side effects include:

  • fatigue (low energy)
  • erectile dysfunction (trouble getting or maintaining an erection)
  • trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • increased sweating
  • sleepiness

If you have more questions about your risk of side effects, you can talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

How do the side effects of Celexa and Zoloft compare?

Both Celexa and Zoloft (sertraline) belong to a group of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Because the drugs work in similar ways, they may cause some of the same side effects.

Common side effects that can happen with Celexa and Zoloft include:

To learn more about how the side effects of Celexa and Zoloft are alike and different, you can see this comparison article. You can also talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Here’s some additional information about some side effects that Celexa may cause.

Weight gain

Weight gain may occur with Celexa. This side effect was rare in studies of the drug.

Weight changes can also happen with depression, which Celexa is used to treat. So you may have weight changes while you’re taking the drug because the symptoms of your condition are reduced. Weight gain may not be a side effect of Celexa itself.

Ways to help manage

If you’re concerned about weight gain with Celexa, you can talk with your medical professional. They can recommend ways to maintain a weight that’s healthy for you while you’re taking the drug.

Sexual side effects

Celexa can cause sexual side effects. These side effects were more commonly reported by males* than females* during studies.

Sexual side effects that were common in males taking Celexa include:

Sexual side effects that were common in females taking Celexa include:

It’s important to remember that depression, which Celexa is used to treat, can also cause some sexual side effects. So it might be hard to tell if these are caused by Celexa or your condition.

* In this article, we use the terms “female” and “male” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, you can see this article.

Ways to help manage

We suggest that you tell your medical professional if you have sexual side effects while you’re taking Celexa. They can help figure out if the side effects may be from your condition or from Celexa itself.

Sleep problems

Sleep problems may occur with Celexa. These side effects were common in studies of the drug.

Each person who takes Celexa may experience different sleep-related side effects. For example, some people may feel sleepy after taking Celexa. Others may have insomnia (trouble sleeping) after taking the drug.

You’ll know more about how the drug affects you after you’ve taken several doses of Celexa.

Ways to help manage

Feeling sleepy after taking Celexa may lead to problems with coordination or thinking. And these effects could be dangerous if they happen while you’re driving. For this reason, it’s best to avoid driving until you know how Celexa will affect you.

If you’re concerned about sleep problems from Celexa, your medical professional can recommend ways to manage them.

Hypomania or mania

Hypomania or mania can occur while taking Celexa. These are moments of high activity, energy, and happiness that are usually related to bipolar disorder. In studies of Celexa, these side effects were more common in people who had bipolar disorder before starting the treatment.

Ways to help manage

Before taking Celexa, it’s recommended that you tell your medical professional if you have bipolar disorder. We suggest that you also tell them if you have a history of hypomania or mania. Your medical professional may prescribe a drug other than Celexa for you.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Celexa has a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks.

Antidepressant drugs such as Celexa may raise the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people ages 24 years and younger. This includes children and adolescents. But it’s important to note that Celexa isn’t approved to treat depression in people younger than 18 years old.*

Regardless of your age, your risk of this side effect may be higher if:

  • your medical professional recently changed your dosage of Celexa, or
  • you recently started taking Celexa

It’s recommended to watch for the following symptoms while you’re taking Celexa:

* Celexa could be prescribed off-label for use in children, but this isn’t likely. This is because studies have shown that Celexa doesn’t effectively treat depression in children younger than 18 years old. (Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed for a purpose that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved.)

Ways to help manage

It’s vital to tell your medical professional immediately if you have any unusual changes in your moods or behaviors while taking Celexa. They may change your treatment plan or prescribe a treatment other than Celexa.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Celexa can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

Ways to help manage

If you develop mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as itchiness, we recommend that you call your medical professional right away. They may suggest an over-the-counter product to help ease your symptoms.

If they confirm that you had a mild allergic reaction to Celexa, they can recommend whether it’s safe for you to keep taking the drug.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as trouble breathing or swelling, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your medical professional confirms that you had a serious allergic reaction to Celexa, they may recommend that you switch to a different treatment.

Monitoring side effects

While you take Celexa, you may want to write down information about any side effects you develop. You can share these notes with your medical professional. This is very helpful when you first take new medications or use multiple treatments.

In your notes, you can include answers to questions such as:

  • What dosage was I taking when I developed the side effect?
  • How long after taking that dosage did I have the side effect?
  • What symptoms did I develop?
  • How did the side effect impact my everyday activities?
  • What other medications was I also taking?
  • What other information do I think is important to share?

By writing down notes and sharing them with your medical professional, they’ll learn how Celexa affects you. They can use this information to adjust your treatment plan as needed.

It may not be safe to take Celexa if you have certain conditions. We describe these below in more detail.

FDA boxed warning: Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Celexa has a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks. This risk mainly applies to children, adolescents, and young adults. But it’s important to note that Celexa isn’t approved to treat depression in people younger than 18 years old.*

For details, you can see the “Side effects up close” section above.

Other warnings

Celexa may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. It’s important to talk with your medical professional about your health history before you take Celexa. The list below includes factors to consider.

Low level of sodium in your blood. Celexa can cause a low level of sodium in your blood. If you already have a low sodium level, it’s best to talk with your medical professional before starting Celexa. They may delay your Celexa treatment until your sodium level increases.

Bleeding problems. Taking Celexa may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily than usual. Your risk of this side effect may be higher if you already have bleeding problems before taking the drug. It’s recommended that you tell your medical professional if you have any bleeding problems.

Closed-angle glaucoma. If you have closed-angle glaucoma (also called angle-closure glaucoma), let your medical professional know before you take Celexa. The drug can increase the risk of a glaucoma attack in people who have this condition. (A glaucoma attack may cause symptoms such as sudden eye pain and blurred vision.) If you have symptoms of a glaucoma attack while taking Celexa, it’s important to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Kidney or liver problems. If you have problems with your kidneys or liver, your body may not be able to get rid of Celexa as well as it should. This could cause the drug to build up in your system, which could raise your risk of side effects. Before you take Celexa, it’s recommended that you talk with your doctor about any kidney or liver problems you have.

Heart problems. If you have any heart problems, it’s important to tell your medical professional before you start taking Celexa. Examples include a recent heart attack or heart failure. Celexa can cause abnormal heart rhythms. And you may have a higher risk of this side effect if you already have heart problems before taking this drug. Your medical professional can advise if it’s safe to take Celexa.

Bipolar disorder or a history of mania. Celexa may cause hypomania or mania. (These are moments of high activity, energy, and happiness that are usually related to bipolar disorder.) Before taking Celexa, it’s recommended that you tell your medical professional if you have bipolar disorder or a history of these conditions. They may prescribe a drug other than Celexa for you.

Seizures. Seizures are a possible side effect of Celexa. If you already have a seizure disorder, your risk of this side effect from Celexa may be even higher. It’s important to tell your medical professional about any seizures you experience before you take the drug. They may prescribe a treatment other than Celexa for you.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Celexa or any of its ingredients, it’s important to avoid taking Celexa. Your medical professional can tell you what other medications are better options for you.

Use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Celexa should not be taken with an MAOI. MAOIs are a group of antidepressant drugs. Taking these drugs together can raise your risk of serotonin syndrome (high level of a brain chemical called serotonin).

Your medical professional will have you wait at least 2 weeks after you’ve stopped taking an MAOI to start taking Celexa. Or if you stop taking Celexa, they will have you wait at least 2 weeks before starting an MAOI.

Alcohol use and Celexa

It may not be safe to drink alcohol while taking Celexa.

Taking Celexa can cause you to have trouble coordinating your muscle movements or thinking clearly. Drinking alcohol while taking Celexa may further raise your risk of these side effects. Drinking alcohol can also raise your risk of overdose with Celexa. Overdose symptoms can include:

If you drink alcohol, it’s important to talk with your medical professional about your alcohol use before starting treatment with Celexa.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Celexa

It may not be safe to take Celexa while pregnant or breastfeeding. For details about the risks and benefits of taking Celexa during these times, we encourage you to talk with your medical professional.

It’s possible for Celexa to be misused. Misuse refers to taking a drug differently from how your medical professional prescribes it. But studies of Celexa have shown a low risk of misuse.

It’s best to take Celexa exactly as your medical professional prescribes it for you. While you take the drug, they may assess you regularly for signs of misuse.

Celexa may cause certain side effects, but they’re usually mild. Most of the drug’s side effects typically get better or go away with time. And most don’t require treatment from a medical professional.

But if you have questions about side effects of Celexa, it’s important to talk with your medical professional or pharmacist. Below are a few questions that you may want to ask:

  • Are there any side effects of Celexa that I should tell you about right away?
  • What’s my risk of Celexa misuse?
  • Do I have any health conditions that might increase my risk of Celexa side effects?

While you take Celexa, you may find it helpful to speak with a therapist or join a support group. You may also be interested in ways to afford therapy. The following articles might be helpful to you:

You can also visit the BetterHelp website to search for online counseling.

In addition, you can sign up for the Psych Central newsletter. We share stories from other people on mental health journeys, as well as current information about treatments.

Disclaimer: Psych Central has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.