Celexa is a well established and popular member of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of medications. in this Celexa review you will learn about when Celexa is used, as well as its common side effects and drug interactions. Celexa (citalopram) has FDA the FDA indication treatment of for major depressive disorder in adults. Celexa does not have FDA approval for use in children although it is used off label by some pediatric psychiatrists. Like all medications in the SSRI class Celexa carries an FDA black box warning of increased risk of suicidality in patients under age 25 years old. Patients under age 25 who are prescribed Celexa need careful monitoring and observation for worsening of depression and suicidal ideation or intent. The usual starting dosage of Celexa is 20 mg orally once a day and the dose may be increased to a maximum of 40 mg daily. Prior to a 2011 FDA warning Celexa in doses up to 80 mg daily were used on occasion but an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias warranted a reduction in the maximum Celexa dose to 40 mg daily. Celexa is also used off label for the treatment of anxiety disorder, panic disorder, premature ejaculation, obsessive-compulsive disorder and is a part of combination therapy for bipolar disorder.
Celexa generally has a delayed onset of therapeutic benefit that is not noted until after 1 to 4 weeks of treatment. This is likely because the mechanism of action of Celexa is by inhibition of the reuptake of serotonin by the presynaptic membrane at nerve junctions in the brain. It likely takes some period of time for the effective concentration of Celexa to accumulate in the fluid in the neural junction and to therefore become effective.
Celexa has become available as a generic drug which is quite inexpensive through discount pharmacies and is well-known as citalopram. Citalopram is one of several SSRI drugs available on the $4./ month discount pharmacy programs.
Celexa is metabolized extensively in the liver through the CYP 450 metabolic process and is a 2C19 and 3A4 substrate as well as being a weak 2D6inhibitor. It is probably not important to understand the details of this but you should understand that this makes drug interactions with Celexa reasonably common and the use of Celexa with cisapride, thioridazine and the nonselective MAO inhibitors is contraindicated. In addition the list of drugs with potential drug interactions with Celexa is extensive and includes warfarin along with numerous other medications.
The mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias with citalopram at high dosage is through prolongation of the QT interval. The QT interval is the time of repolarization of the cardiac muscles between heartbeats and is a time when the initiation of serious cardiac arrhythmias can occur. This phenomenon is called torsade de pointes and when Celexa is used in combination with other medications that can prolong the QT interval the risk of torsade de pointes and serious cardiac arrhythmias and death Is increased. Examples of medications where combination with Celexa can lead to QT prolongation include thiazide diuretics, the no macrolide antibiotics, Plavix, and cimetidine, as well as many others.
Celexa side effects are fortunately usually tolerable for most patients with the low discontinuation rate because of side effects but nonetheless side effects are common with Celexa use. The most common side effect with Celexa is orgasmic dysfunction in women and ejaculatory delay in men. This can be very annoying and is a side effect common to the whole no SSRI class of medications. Other common Celexa side effects include gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, diarrhea, dyspepsia and dry mouth. Sweating and insomnia are typical neurologic side effects. Nervousness and anxiety are occasionally noted with Celexa use especially early in the course therapy. Serious Celexa side effects can include suicidality especially in those under age 25, the serotonin syndrome especially when used in conjunction with other medications that can have serotonergic affect, mania especially in patients with bipolar disorder, hyponatremia and SIADH, prolonged age that the QT interval and torsade de pointes, and priapism.
The SSRI discontinuation syndrome can be noted with any SSRI medications but is more common in SSRIs with a short-term half-life (the length of time it takes for 50% of the amount of a drug in the blood stream to be excreted or metabolized). Celexa has a relatively long serum half-life of approximately 35 hours and so the SSRI discontinuation syndrome is relatively uncommon and usually fairly mild with Celexa discontinuation. Still discontinuation of Celexa from high dosage should be discouraged and a gradual taper of Celexa dosage over number of days or weeks is usually recommended. When compared to SSRIs like paroxetine (Paxil) which has a much shorter serum half-life discontinuation symptoms are less frequent and less severe most the time with Celexa. The selective norepinephrine-serotonin inhibitor (SNRI) Effexor (venlafaxine) is especially notorious for its frequent and severe discontinuation syndrome. The typical symptoms of SSRI discontinuation syndrome can include vertigo, dizziness, a spacey feeling in the head, and odd electrical impulses sometimes described as zaps or zinger sensations. Additional symptoms of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome can include headache, nightmares, tremor, irritability, dysphoria, confusion and emotional lability. All of these symptoms are felt to be self-limited although rare incidences of long-lasting problems have been claimed.
Escitalopram, the stereo-isomer of citalopram that is biologically active, was brought to market as Lexapro and has gained favor by some as having a quicker onset of action as well as potentially higher efficacy and lower side effect profile when compared to Celexa, although many feel that the two drugs are very similar in their efficacy and side effects. This was a bigger issue prior to the release of generic escitalopram in 2012.
Celexa carries a C rating for safety during pregnancy but has trimester specific cautions and is generally avoided especially late in pregnancy. The safety of Celexa during lactation is uncertain.
Overall Celexa should be considered for treatment of major depressive disorder, especially in patients where there’s no history of bipolar disorder or symptoms to suggest bipolar disorder and when generic citalopram with its very low cost is attractive.