Anxiety Medications: Celexa

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Celexa is an antidepressant medication sometimes used to treat anxiety symptoms. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This type of medication restores the balance of serotonin in the brain in order to help improve mood problems.

Celexa, like other antidepressants, must be taken on a regular basis to be effective in treating depression and anxiety. It can take up to four weeks of regular use before someone begins to feel better.

Celexa comes in doses of 20 mg., 40 mg., and in a oral solution (liquid) form.

Your doctor should prescribe the lowest possible dose to start with and increase in increments, if needed.

Before Taking Celexa

Some people with certain medical conditions either should not take Celexa or should have adjustments in their prescribed dosage. Make sure your doctor knows if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Liver or kidney disease

  • Seizure disorder, such as epilepsy

  • History of substance abuse

  • History or suicidal thoughts

  • Bipolar disorder

People under the age of 24 have sometimes had thoughts of suicide when first beginning taking antidepressant medication or when their dosage is increased. If you are experiencing increased symptoms of depression or thoughts of suicide, you should immediately contact your doctor.

In addition, thoughts of suicide or increased depression may occur when stopping Celexa. You should not stop this medication without first talking with your doctor. You may be advised to slowly taper the amount of Celexa you are taking.

Drug Interactions

There are a number of medications that may interfere with the effectiveness of Celexa or could cause dangerous interactions while taking this medication. It is important to let your doctor know of any other medications you may be taking, including over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements and vitamins.

MAOIs should not be taken with Celexa. If you are taking an MAOI, you will need to stop at least 14 days before beginning this medication and should not take an MAOI for at least 14 days after stopping Celexa. Combining Celexa with an MAOI is dangerous and can sometimes cause fatal interactions.

In addition to MAOIs, you should tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications before beginning Celexa:

  • Tegretal

  • Tagament

  • Lithobid

  • Eskalith

  • Coumadin

  • Other antidepressants

  • Axert

  • Frova

  • Imitrex

  • Zomig

  • Maxalt

  • Amerge

  • Voltaren

  • Lodine

  • Feldene

  • Relafen

  • Medications for pain, arthiritis, fever or swelling including aspirin and ibuprofen, and naxopren

Side Effects of Celexa

Although rare, some side effects or allergic reaction to Celexa require immediate medical care. Call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Skin rash or hives

  • Swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat

  • Difficulty breathing

There are also a number of possible side effects that, should you be experiencing, you should contact your doctor immediately:

  • Changes in behavior, including hyperactivity

  • Worsening depression, thoughts of suicide or increased anxiety, including panic attacks

  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping

  • Mood changes such as irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, agitation or restlessness

  • Seizures

  • Tremors, twitching, or shivering

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Trouble with balance or coordination

  • Confusion

  • Sweating

  • Heart palpitations or increased heart rate

More common, and less severe, side effects may also appear. Many of these will disappear after taking Celexa for a period of time, however, if you are experiencing these side effects you should talk with your doctor about any of the following:

  • Nervousness or restlessness

  • Drowsiness or dizziness

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Stomach problems such as nausea, gas, or decreased appetite

  • Problems sleeping

  • Changes in weight, either losing weight or gaining weight

  • Increased urination

  • Decreased sex drive, impotence or difficulty reaching orgasm

  • Ringing in ears

  • Dry or watery mouth

  • Excessive yawning

Pregnancy and Nursing

Celexa, as all SSRI class of antidepressants, could cause harm to an unborn baby. Dangerous or life-threatening lung problems in newborns where mothers were taking SSRIs have been reported. You should take Celexa while pregnant, however, it is also important to not stop Celexa suddenly as this can cause an increase in depression symptoms and thoughts of suicide. Talk with your doctor if you are planning to become, or if you become, pregnant while taking Celexa.

Celexa may also pass to your baby through breast milk. You should not take Celexa while nursing. Talk with your doctor if you plan to breast feed while taking Celexa.


"Celexa", Date Unknown, Author Unknown,

"Celexa Prescribing Information", 2009, January, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.