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Celexa (Citalopram) - Medication Profile

Bipolar Medications Library


Updated June 02, 2014

Celexa - generic citalopram - is a medication used to treat depression. Celexa is a member of the drug family known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work by making more of the brain hormone serotonin available between nerve cells, which has been shown to ease depression.

Benefits of Celexa

  • Compared to the other drugs in its class, Celexa has a relatively high bioavailability (80 percent), meaning a lower dose can be taken to achieve the same level in the bloodstream as, for example, Paxil (paroxetine), whose bioavailability is only 50 percent.

  • Luvox (fluvoxamine) has a higher bioavailability score than Celexa - 95 percent - but has far more potential for drug interactions than Celexa, as does Prozac (fluoxetine).

  • Finally, the half-life of Celexa is about 1.5 days, which means that if you stop taking it abruptly, it takes 36 hours for half of it to clear out of your system, another 36 hours for half of what's left to clear, etc. Medications with shorter half-lives, which include Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft (sertraline) are more likely to cause SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome if stopped suddenly, while Prozac, with a 9.3 day half-life, takes over a month to get out of one's system.

Precautions and Warnings

  • As with other antidepressants, allow two weeks between starting or stopping Celexa and stopping or starting an MAOI antidepressant.
  • Be aware that taking any SSRI antidepressant with a triptan medication for migraines may cause a serious condition called Serotonin Syndrome. See FDA Issues Advisory on SSRIs/SSNRIs and Migraine Meds.
  • Fatal cases of Serotonin Syndrome have been reported when Celexa is mixed with the antibiotic Zyvox (linezolid).
  • May cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how you react to Celexa.
  • Do not drink alcohol when taking Celexa.
  • Do not stop taking Celexa all at once unless your doctor approves due to serious side effects. The dose should be tapered off gradually.
  • Celexa (and other antidepressants) carries a slight risk of causing bleeding problems, especially if taken with aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Coumadin (warfarin) or other drugs that affect bleeding. (For more, see Antidepressants and Abnormal Bleeding.)
  • Any antidepressant may induce mania in patients with bipolar disorder.
  • Celexa carries the same black box warning as other antidepressants.


  • In July 2006 the Food and Drug Administration released a warning that babies whose mothers took SSRI antidepressants late in pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have a serious condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
  • The FDA also notes that babies delivered to mothers taking Celexa late in pregnancy have developed problems such as difficulty breathing and feeding.
Thus, if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, it is essential that you discuss your medications with all your doctors.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be all-inclusive or to replace information provided by your doctor or with the prescription from the manufacturer.

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