Unfortunately, many of these people don’t receive treatment, a situation that can lead to dire health consequences. Mental illness doesn’t just affect your everyday life. It has been connected to serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and we also know it leads to premature death.
If you have been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression, you know how awful these diseases make you feel. Luckily, both conditions are treatable. One effective option is Celexa (citalopram), which has been used to treat depression since 1998.
What do you need to know about taking Celexa for anxiety and other disorders? In the article below we’ll tell you everything you need to know. Let’s go!
What is Celexa?
Celexa is the brand name for citalopram. The FDA has approved it for treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).
Doctors also prescribe Celexa as an “off-label” medication for the following conditions:
- Social phobia
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
“Off-label” means the FDA has not approved the drug to treat those conditions. Doctors prescribe it, though, because they believe it is effective.
How does Celexa work? In the next section, we’ll find out.
Celexa and Serotonin
Celexa belongs to a group of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other medicines in this group include Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac. They all work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. That is a fancy word for a chemical messenger. As such, serotonin takes messages back and forth between brain cells.
Usually, serotonin is reabsorbed in the brain. This is normal.
But doctors believe that people with anxiety and depression have a neurotransmitter imbalance. They end up with low levels of serotonin. Because it controls mood and social behavior, they feel depressed or anxious.
SSRIs block the reabsorption process only for serotonin. This fixes the imbalance, and people begin to feel more like themselves again.
If you are considering Celexa for your anxiety or depression, you are probably curious about dosage and side effects. In the next two sections, we’ll look at those issues. Read on!
Facts About Celexa Dosage
It is taken once a day, either in the morning or the evening. Some people choose to take it with food. This isn’t necessary, although it may prevent nausea that sometimes happens when starting Celexa. That side effect usually disappears as the body adjusts to the medication.
Often doctors will have patients begin Celexa at a low dose. They will then slowly increase the amount over time.
The average dose is between 20 mg and 40 mg a day. Anyone over 60 should not take more than 20 mg per day.
Nausea was mentioned already as a possible side effect (usually only at the beginning of treatment). In the next section, let’s look at some other ones.
A Few Notes on Celexa Side Effects
Every drug has some kind of side effect, some of which are common, while others are not. We’ll start with the usual side effects. Then we’ll move on to ones that you probably won’t experience but should know about anyway.
Some of the More Common Side Effects of Celexa
Many of Celexa’s side effects occur during the first week or two after beginning treatment. Many of them will go away as your body adjusts to the drug.
Some of the more common initial side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
About 15% to 20% of patients experience some side effects from Celexa.
Like most SSRIs, Celexa does have some negative sexual side effects, many of which are unfortunately long-lasting. Both men and women might experience a lack of sexual desire and problems achieving an orgasm. Some men find they begin having trouble with their erections and have delayed ejaculations.
Yet, sometimes it’s hard to tell if these sexual problems stem from the SSRI or the depression that caused the person to seek treatment in the first place. This is because untreated depression usually has a sexual dysfunction component. In fact, about 35% to 50% of people with depression experience problems with sexual desire or function.
Patients should speak with their doctor if any of these side effects are unmanageable or bothersome. Talking to a therapist might also help manage any sexual problems.
Now let’s look at some uncommon side effects that are nonetheless important to know about.
Information on Some Rare Side Effects
Like many medications, Celexa has its share of rare but serious side effects. One of these affects the heart, potentially producing abnormal rhythms. It is especially serious for patients with congenital long QT syndrome.
Celexa, along with some older antidepressants, can increase the heart’s QT interval. What is that?
It is the time starting with the heart’s electrical activation and ending with its electrical relaxation. The QT interval is often measured on an EKG, and if it is prolonged, the patient may be at risk for dangerous arrhythmias.
Because of this risk, anyone who has congenital long QT syndrome should not use Celexa. Neither should individuals with low potassium or magnesium levels in their blood. For these groups, Celexa increases their risk of abnormal heart rhythms.
For everyone else, it appears that doses greater than 40 mg, put them at risk of heart arrhythmias. This is the highest dose prescribed. With proper use, it is unlikely that the average patient will experience this problem.
Wrapping Up: Celexa for Anxiety and Depression
There you have it! Everything you need to know about Celexa for anxiety and depression.
Getting through each day with depression or anxiety can be hard. Celexa might be a part of your solution to a happier, higher-functioning life.
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