Celexa Withdrawal: Understand the Side Effects and Symptoms

Major depressive disorder (MDD) was first introduced in the 1970s, and the illness was finally added to the DSM-III in 1980. Today, major depressive disorder is referred to as a medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks, and acts. As medical practitioners were studying depression, the pharmacological treatment for this illness was also being developed simultaneously. 

What Is Celexa?

Celexa (citalopram) is an antidepressant that belongs to the class of drugs known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are a widely used type of antidepressant that is mainly prescribed for easing the symptoms of moderate to severe depression. Drugs that belong to this class treat depression by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. 

Celexa is an FDA-approved treatment to alleviate the symptoms of severe depression, such as:

  • Depressed mood 
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure
  • Decreased food intake
  • Low energy
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Agitation 
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Withdrawing From Celexa

Whatever kind of antidepressant you may take, suddenly quitting them will not do any good for your body and health. After a few weeks, when you feel the effects of the drug, you might think that now that you feel better, you don’t need to take them anymore. Do not stop taking your antidepressants unless your doctor told you so!

The physical and mental effects you experience are caused by the sudden decrease of serotonin levels in your brain, which is what is called withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are often related to those addicted to drugs—but having these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a drug addict, as few people who take antidepressants develop a craving for them. 

Although Celexa is less likely to cause serious withdrawal symptoms, you still shouldn’t be assured that you’re going to be fine if you suddenly stop taking it. Your withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and can even last for longer than a few weeks. Discontinuing your dose can cause you to relapse, experience depression symptoms again, and lead to suicidal thoughts—or worse, suicidal behavior.

If you feel uncomfortable taking Celexa, talk to your healthcare provider about it. Leave it to them to come up with a treatment plan so that you can successfully taper off the medication without suffering from any symptoms of withdrawal.

What Is Celexa Used For?

The Food and Drug (FDA) only approved Celexa for treating depression in adults, but is also prescribed “off-label” to treat other health conditions, namely:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Coronary arteriosclerosis
  • postmenopausal flushing
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

“Off-label” use refers to the unapproved use of an approved drug. When a drug is used off-label, it could mean that it is being prescribed for an illness it’s not approved to treat, given in a different form (oral solution instead of capsule), or given in a different dose. The off-label use of drugs is entirely legal and is very common. 

Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to know more about off-label drugs.

The Side Effects of Celexa

Antidepressants are not perfect; you will experience some side effects when taking them. The most common side effects of Celexa include:

  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased appetite
  • Gas
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling of exhaustion
  • Weight changes
  • Difficulty orgasming

Celexa can also cause serious side effects, such as:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain or swelling
  • Headache with chest pain 
  • Fainting
  • Rigid muscles
  • Fever 
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe weakness
  • Feeling unsteady

Don’t hesitate to get medical help as soon as you discover that you have any of the severe side effects above.

citalopram withdrawal
What is Celexa

Celexa vs. Zoloft

Celexa and Zoloft are both medications used to treat depression and belong to the class of drugs called SSRIs. It will also take several weeks for you to feel the effects of both drugs. These two antidepressants are mostly the same, as they work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain—but Zoloft does have a few differences from Celexa.


Unlike Celexa, which is only prescribed for depression, your healthcare provider doesn’t have to use Zoloft off-label if they want to treat the conditions listed below:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder (PD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD)

Dosage Form

Celexa can only be ingested through tablet form and taken exactly as prescribed, but Zoloft can also be consumed as an oral solution. The Zoloft oral solution must always be diluted and should be used with the provided oral dropper to measure the amount needed. 

Side Effects

Zoloft and Celexa have mostly the same side effects as they are both SSRIs, but Zoloft does have adverse reactions that Celexa doesn’t have. Taking Zoloft may cause you to feel nervous and develop a skin rash. Since Zoloft has a shorter half-life, it may cause fewer side effects.


Antidepressants weren’t meant to treat depression at first; chemists developed isonicotinoyl hydrazide (isoniazid) for the treatment of tuberculosis. The “side effects” of isoniazid—which were euphoria, psycho-stimulation, increased appetite, and improved sleep—were later considered therapeutic effects that can be used for the treatment of depression. 

The condition is now better understood, and there are many available treatments to help those suffering from it. Still, researchers continuously work to learn more about depression, including the long-term effects of antidepressants. One notable antidepressant here is Celexa—a drug that has its pros and cons when being used for treating depression.

The treatment for depression isn’t as easy and simple as one may think; you don’t just pop a happy pill and go about your day feeling better instantly. Everybody is different, and what may work for others may not work for you. Finding the right treatment may take a bit of tweaking and trial and error, so you must be patient and trust your doctor.