Does Celexa have an MAOI? (+3 factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Celexa has a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). We will also discuss the key differences to help you understand the basic pharmacological use of these medications.

Does Celexa have an MAOI?

No, Celexa (Citalopram) does not have a Monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Celexa is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRI and MAOI are two separate antidepressant drug classes used for the treatment of depression, anxiety and related conditions.

MAOIs are considered more effective than Celexa for treating both depression and anxiety. However, it possesses more side effects and drug interactions as compared to SSRIs because they exert an effect on many neurotransmitters in the brain including dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

While Celexa is a relatively safer drug with fewer side effects and drug interactions due to its effect on serotonin.

How is Celexa different from MAOIs?

The key difference between Celexa and MAOI is as follows:

Mechanism of action

Celexa is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Due to this, the levels of serotonin increase in the brain for a longer period which helps relieve symptoms associated with anxiety and depression (1).

MAOI exerts their action by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) which results in inhibiting the breakdown of neurotransmitters and an increased accumulation of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain (2).

Therapeutic uses and side effects of Celexa and MAOIs

  Celexa MAOIs
Therapeutic uses



Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Major depressive disorder (MDD) (3)

Atypical depression

Panic attacks

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Parkinson’s disease

Bipolar disorder

Bulimia nervosa (4)

Side effects





Acid reflux


Sexual dysfunction

Appetite changes (3)

Low blood pressure

Weight gain

Muscle cramps


Sexual dysfunction

Involuntary muscle jerks


Memory issues

Hypertensive crisis (4)

It is important to note that people respond differently to medications, especially those which affect the brain chemistry. So, not every patient taking these medications may experience the side effects mentioned above.

It is important to discuss your symptoms and side effects with your doctor so that necessary adjustments can be made to avoid such side effects.

Withdrawal symptoms

When discontinuing Celexa, some individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms. these symptoms can vary in severity and may include flu-like symptoms, dizziness, mood changes, sleep disturbances, nausea and vomiting (5).

Stopping MAOI can result in severe withdrawal symptoms in some people. These symptoms include worsening depression, hallucinations, hypomania, hypotension, tiredness, agitation etc (6).

Celexa and MAOIs are antidepressants and discontinuation of these medications can cause severe side effects. If you and your doctor decide to discontinue these medications, a tapering schedule is usually recommended to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Can you take Celexa and MAOI together?

Celexa and MAOI cannot be taken together. The combination of these medications is contraindicated. Both medications should have a gap of two weeks between each other. The combination of these medications may lead to potential side effects such as serotonin syndrome due to the increased effects of both drugs on serotonin levels and activity.

Serotonin syndrome occurs when serotonin accumulates in the brain and the symptoms can vary from mild to severe. These symptoms include hypotension, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures and coma (7).

It is highly risky to take Celexa with MAOI. Taking these may require extensive monitoring due to the chances of developing adverse effects leading to suicidal behaviour since both classes impact human behaviour by altering brain chemistry.

It is important to always consult your doctor before initiating, switching or dropping any antidepressant medication for safe and better therapeutic outcomes.

How to choose between Celexa and MAOI?

To choose between Celexa and MAOI medications is based on your signs, symptoms and health condition. Your doctor may perform a detailed and thorough analysis of you to choose the antidepressant that suits you best to cure and treat you.

However, prescribing medication is also based on additional factors such as:

  • Individual tolerability and response to either agent
  • Suitability of the medication for your condition
  • The severity of the depressive illness
  • Patient symptoms and medical history
  • History of antidepressant use 
  • Underlying health conditions

Celexa is generally a first line treatment for depression and anxiety because it is safe and compliant. However, MAOIs are more effective than Celexa for treating depression and anxiety but have potential side effects and interactions. MAOIs are only prescribed to individuals who have not responded to other antidepressants, such as SSRIs or SNRIs.

In my opinion, Celexa does not have MAOI. The fundamental differences lies in their mechanism of action, with Celexa being an SSRI and MAOI acting on monoamine oxidase enzymes.

I would recommend you to always communiacte your signs and symptoms properly to you doctor so they can prescribe you an antidepressant that suits best to your condition and does not show excessive side effects.

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