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Citalopram may not be the right choice for every person. It is important to discuss potential citalopram alternatives with a medical provider before starting citalopram or when making a switch from this drug.

Citalopram Alternatives

Your options for citalopram alternatives will be based on the condition that is being treated.

For Depression

Your medical provider may prescribe other SSRIs for your depression such as Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), or Prozac (fluoxetine). They may also prescribe other antidepressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) or duloxetine (Cymbalta), or antipsychotic medicines, such as aripiprazole (Abilify) or olanzapine (Zyprexa). These medications also treat depression without having the same chemical ingredients as citalopram.

For Anxiety

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that provides immediate relief when you are experiencing anxiety. It may also be given along with citalopram.

For Sleep

Mirtazapine (Remeron) is an antidepressant with antihistamine action that helps to improve sleep after the first dose.

For the Elderly

Fluoxetine (Prozac) is an alternative to citalopram for the elderly as it can also treat dementia as well as depressive symptoms.


Fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), and sertraline (Zoloft) are other SSRI medicines that effectively treat OCD symptoms within 6 weeks to 13 weeks when starting these treatments.

For Seizures

An antiepileptic drug may be an alternative to citalopram as they function as mood stabilizers while also helping to treat people who have epilepsy and experience seizures.


Other SSRIs, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil),and escitalopram (Lexapro), can be used to lessen the overall symptoms associated with PMS or PMDD.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


Generic Name: Citalopram HBr

Brands: Celexa

Class: Antidepressant [Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)]

Availability: Prescription only

Molecular Formula: C20H22BrFN2O

Substance UNII: I1E9D14F36

What is Citalopram?

Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) given as a prescription. It is the generic name of the trade name Celexa.

What is Citalopram Used For?

Citalopram is an antidepressant that is used to treat depression. When used as an antidepressant, it is designed to bring about better mental balance by improving a person’s mood by increasing the serotonin levels present in the brain.

During certain occasions, medical professionals may also prescribe this drug to treat other conditions such as alcoholism, eating disorders, social phobia (excessive interaction anxiety), panic disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, according to MedlinePlus. This list of conditions that citalopram is prescribed for is not complete, as you should speak with a medical professional regarding additional uses. Since citalopram can be prescribed for conditions other than what it was originally approved for by the FDA, it is considered an off-label drug and has off-label uses.

How Does Citalopram Work?

Citalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to increase the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical created naturally by the body that helps with certain bodily functions, such as digestion and bowel movements. It is also believed that serotonin helps to regulate a person’s mood.

When serotonin levels are low, a person may experience a low mood and symptoms of depression. Citalopram prevents the nerve cells from reabsorbing the serotonin. By blocking this reabsorption, it helps to increase the levels of serotonin that are present for the brain. The higher serotonin levels available for the brain helps to improve the person’s mood.

How Long Does It Take for Citalopram to Work?

Citalopram can take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks before a person starts to see noticeable results. It can be prescribed as a tablet or as a solution. It may be taken with or without food.

Do Not Use Citalopram If:

There are several situations where taking this medication may not be the right choice for a person.  According to the FDA, you should not use citalopram if having these conditions or experiencing these situations:

  • Taking MAOIs
  • After stopping treatment of MAOIs for 14 days
  • Concomitant use of pimozide
  • Having a hypersensitivity to citalopram or its inactive ingredients

Please understand that this list of contradictions may not be complete. There may possibly be other situations where starting the use of this drug is not advisable.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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