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What is Celexa?

Celexa, or citalopram, is made by Forest Laboratories, Inc. and was approved by the FDA in 1998. It is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) approved to treat depression. Celexa works by restoring the balance of certain natural substances in the brain in an attempt to improve feelings of well-being and increase energy levels.


In August 2011, the FDA issued a warning stating that high doses of Celexa may cause dangerous changes in the electrical activity of the heart which, in severe cases, may cause death. The warning states that:

  • High doses of Celexa (citalopram) can lead to changes in the electrical activity of the heart characterized by irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fainting.
  • In some cases, this can lead to “Torsade de Pointes,” a fatal condition.
  • Patients should not take more than 40 mg of Celexa per day.
  • Patients taking certain other drugs (such as antacids like Tagamet) should take an even lower dosage.
  • Patients with underlying heart conditions and those who are predisposed to low levels of potassium and magnesium in the blood are also at a heightened risk.


Many antidepressants, including SSRIs, may harm an unborn child if they are taken while a mother is pregnant or breast-feeding. In fact, FDA findings indicate increased birth defects in newborns including serious heart and lung defects associated with the use of the anti-depressant drug Celexa during pregnancy.

Additionally, the Journal of the American Medical Association recently found a fivefold risk of relapse in depression in pregnant women who stopped taking antidepressants. Thus, patients taking Celexa while pregnant should consult a doctor before possible discontinuation.


In July 2006, the FDA issued an alert stating that a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome can occur when Celexa and migraine medications or when Celexa and MAOIs are taken together. Additionally, like many other SSRIs, Celexa is known to cause one or more of the following side effects:

  • Serotonin Syndrome
    • This is characterized by fever, confusion, muscle rigidity, and cardiac, liver, or kidney problems.
  • Severe Allergic Reactions
  • Bizarre Behavior
  • Worsening of the Depression
  • Black or Bloody Stools
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion
  • Overactive Reflexes
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Fainting
  • Fast or Irregular Heartbeat
  • Fever, Chills, or Sore Throat
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased Hunger, Thirst, or Urination
  • Joint or Wrist Aches or Pain
  • Memory Loss
  • New or Worsening Agitation, Panic Attacks, Aggressiveness, Impulsiveness, Irritability, Hostility, Exaggerated Feeling of Well-Being, Restlessness, or Inability to Sit Still
  • Persistent or Severe Ringing in the Ears
  • Persistent, Painful Erection
  • Red, Swollen, Blistered, or Peeling Skin
  • Seizures
  • Severe or Persistent Anxiety, Trouble Sleeping, or Weakness
  • Severe or Persistent Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, or Headache
  • Significant Weight Loss
  • Suicidal Thoughts or Attempts
  • Tremors
  • Unusual Bruising or Bleeding
  • Unusual or Severe Mental or Mood Changes
  • Unusual Swelling
  • Unusual Weakness
  • Vision Changes


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