HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Citalopram

Return to Citalopram overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Taking Prozac, Citalopram and Amitriptyline
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You can drink alcohol while taking citalopram

You can continue to drink alcohol in moderation while taking citalopram. You might find that alcohol makes you feel more sleepy or you might lose your focus so, during the first few days, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you.

Do not drive or ride a bike just after you start taking citalopram

  • Taking citalopram may affect your concentration to do things like driving a car, riding a bike, or anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Don't worry - most people drive as normal while taking citalopram.

Try not to take citalopram for the first time just before your exams

  • Taking citalopram may affect your concentration to do things that need a lot of focus, like exams.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting citalopram.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them. If they are more than a month away, however, you might find that it is better to start citalopram to lift your mood and improve your motivation to study.
  • Don't worry - most people do exams as normal while taking citalopram.
  • Depression itself can also affect concentration!

Citalopram is not a banned substance in sport

  • Citalopram is not a banned substance in sport.
  • Taking citalopram may affect your concentration to do things like riding a bike, competitive gymnastics, or anything else that needs a lot of focus.
  • It might be best to stop such sports for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Don't worry - most people do sports as normal while taking citalopram.

Your weight can be affected by citalopram

  • Citalopram can cause people to lose weight when they first start talking it. 
  • Some people find that in the long-term they gain a little weight - this might be due in part to a return of their appetite.
  • It is very difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it but if you start to have problems with your weight while taking citalopram talk to your doctor or your pharmacist about this.
  • Depression itself can also affect your weight! 

For women, citalopram will not affect contraception pills or the 'morning after' pill

  • It also shouldn't affect periods

Citalopram may make you drowsy

  • You can feel drowsy in the first few days of taking citalopram.
  • It should, however, get better after the first week or two.
  • If you feel like a zombie, and you’ve been taking it for more than a month, you should go back to the doctor and see what else you could do.

Let your family and friends know you are taking citalopram so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking the medicine!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website. They could then help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it is hard for us to see it ourselves).
  • The side-effects of citalopram might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You may become more anxious, for example. It may make you irritable.
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
    After a month you should be getting the good effects of citalopram, and that should improve your relationships in itself.

Citalopram can have side-effects that might affect your sex life

The good effects of citalopram may, after a while, have a good effect on your sex life as your mood lifts and you become interested in life and relationships again.

Some of the possible negative side effects include:

  • Men might get painful erections, or problems with getting hard (getting an erection) and coming (ejaculating)
  • Women might have some bleeding from their vagina, and might not come (reach orgasm) the same way as before
  • You may have a lower sex drive
  • If you lose or gain weight, or get other physical side-effects, you may just not feel as sexy as before

These effects should pass after the first couple of weeks. If they do not, and this is a problem for you, go back to the doctor and see what else you could try.

Citalopram is unlikely to affect your chances of having children in the future (fertility)

  • There is nothing to suggest that citalopram affects the fertility of men or women
  • Risks with citalopram in pregnancy are low but women who are trying to get pregnant, should talk about it with their doctor (see below for more information).

Talk to your doctor about your citalopram if you are trying to get pregnant

Citalopram can sometimes cause symptoms in newborn babies

Citalopram is passed to the baby in breastmilk

  • If you do become pregnant while you are on citalopram, you should carry on taking the medicine and go back to your doctor as soon as possible, to see if you should change or stop your medicine.
  • If you agree - with your doctor - to carry on taking citalopram, you should tell your midwife that you are taking it before you give birth.
  • Remember, babies do better with well mums
  • If citalopram is taken in the last 5 months of a pregnancy, it can sometimes cause a serious condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
  • This happens in around 12 out of 1,000 births, but it can be serious. This compares with a rate of 2 in 1,000 in women not on antidepressants.
  • This can make the baby breathe faster and look a bit blue in colour. This happens in the first 24 hours after birth: you will need help from the midwife and doctors, so it is better if they are looking out for problems.
  • There are some other symptoms that can happen in newborn babies if citalopram is taken in the last 3 months of pregnancy, so do look out for these and get help if they happen:
  • Fits or shaking
  • Being too hot or cold
  • Feeding difficulties, or being sick
  • Having stiff or floppy muscles, or overactive reflexes
  • Being jittery, irritable or having constant crying
  • Being very sleepy, or finding it difficult to sleep
  • These are usually mild and go away in a few days without treatment
  • Citalopram passes to the baby in breast milk in small amounts.
  • Breastfeeding may help offset any withdrawal symptoms
  • Please talk to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist if you want to breastfeed while taking citalopram.