Does Citalopram affect serotonin levels? (7 precautions)

In this article, we will discuss whether Citalopram affects serotonin levels, how Citalopram works, what benefits and side effects are linked with it, and what precautions should be taken while using Citalopram. 

Does Citalopram affect serotonin levels?

Yes, Citalopram does affect serotonin levels in the brain. Citalopram (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-SSRI) is a commonly prescribed antidepressant that is safe and well-tolerated by most patients.

Citalopram affects serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for regulating symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. 

How does Citalopram affect serotonin levels?

Being an SSRI, Citalopram works by inhibiting the reabsorption of serotonin into brain cells, thereby increasing serotonin levels. Increased serotonin levels help alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (1). Citalopram does not affect other neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline (2,3).  

What is the role of serotonin in the body?

Serotonin is a chemical substance in the brain that acts as a messenger, sending commands to other body parts. Serotonin affects mood, appetite, stress response, sleep, and memory.

It also has a major impact on certain medical conditions like anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (4). 

What does research suggest?

A clinical trial conducted in 2005, examined Citalopram and serotonin levels in the blood of depressed patients during both short-term and long-term use. Blood samples were checked before and after taking the medication, and the highest levels of serotonin were found after long-term use of Citalopram (5).

Another research study suggested that Citalopram works well for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) by increasing serotonin levels and improving the symptoms of this condition (6).

One more study examined patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while using Citalopram for 8 weeks. They started with a low dose and gradually increased it. Citalopram works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which helps improve the symptoms of PTSD (7). 

There are several studies which support the activity of Citalopram in affecting serotonin levels in the blood. 

What are the benefits of using Citalopram for serotonin-related disorders?

Citalopram is beneficial for use in serotonin-related disorders as most patients tolerate this medicine well. Additionally, Citalopram does not cause adverse effects related to the cardiovascular system like other SSRIs. 

Citalopram is an FDA-approved antidepressant; however, it may also be used to treat conditions like anxiety, stress, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) due to its mechanism of action (1).

What side effects can be experienced while taking Citalopram?

Citalopram is a well-tolerated antidepressant; however, some individuals may experience side effects. 

Common side effects

Some common side effects of Citalopram may include:

It is important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects while using Citalopram. If any side effects become bothersome, please consult your healthcare professional. 

Rare side effects

Citalopram may also cause some serious and rare side effects in a few patients. If any of these occur, you should immediately seek medical help. 

  • Breathing or swallowing problems
  • Unconsciousness
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Tremors
  • Concentration problems

What precautions should be taken while using Citalopram? 

You must take the following precautions when using Citalopram for serotonin-related disorders:

  • Citalopram is quite similar to another SSRI, Escitalopram; do not confuse or mix these medicines.
  • You should inform your doctor if you are allergic to Citalopram.
  • Citalopram should not be used alongside monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as it may lead to serotonin syndrome. 
  • You should also inform your doctor if you are taking Thioridazine, Urokinase, Pimozide, Methylene blue, Linezolid, or Dapoxetine.
  • Avoid driving, as Citalopram may cause drowsiness. 
  • Potassium and sodium levels should be monitored while using Citalopram. 
  • ECG is necessary for patients who have cardiovascular disorders (1). 


Citalopram is an antidepressant that affects serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Citalopram blocks the reabsorption of serotonin by the receptors, thereby increasing its levels in the brain.

Increased serotonin levels help reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, Citalopram affects serotonin levels and is used to treat various serotonin-related disorders. 

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