Does Citalopram cause headaches? (5+ tips)

In this article, we will discuss whether Citalopram causes headaches. Furthermore, we will explore what the research suggests about Citalopram and headaches, what are the possible causes and how to manage headaches while using Citalopram. 

Does Citalopram cause headaches?

Yes, Citalopram does cause headaches, and it is a common adverse effect of this antidepressant (1). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Citalopram are commonly associated with headaches. Additionally, sudden discontinuation of Citalopram may also result in headaches. 

What does research suggest?

According to a research study, 15-18% of patients experience headaches while taking Citalopram. However, Citalopram is generally a well-tolerated antidepressant medicine, both for shorter and longer treatments, with mild side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and sleep disturbances (2,3). 

These common side effects associated with Citalopram may go away when used for longer periods. Citalopram is considered to be a safe antidepressant for patients who can not tolerate the severe side effects of other antidepressants (4,5).  

What are the causes of Citalopram-induced headaches?

The following causes may contribute to Citalopram-induced headaches:

Serotonin levels

Citalopram, as a selective serotonin inhibitor (SSRI), works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. These changes in serotonin levels may cause headaches in some patients (6). 

Changes in blood flow

Serotonin may play a vital role in regulating blood flow to blood vessels; hence, lower serotonin levels in the early phase of Citalopram treatment may be linked to the onset of headaches.

The altered serotonin levels, caused by Citalopram’s activity, may induce headaches in some patients, especially during the early phase of treatment (7). 

Tolerance level 

Some individuals are more sensitive to medicines and are more likely to experience side effects, however, not everyone using Citalopram may experience headaches. Citalopram takes one or two weeks to start working, hence, these headaches may subside within this time as the body adjusts to the medication. 

How to get rid of Citalopram-induced headaches?

You may get rid of Citalopram-induced headaches in the following ways:


Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers (analgesics) such as Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, or Paracetamol, can provide relief from Citalopram-induced headaches (8). However, these headaches may resolve as your body adapts to the medication. 

Dose reduction

If headaches caused by Citalopram become bothersome, inform your doctor. If necessary, they may reduce your dosage and monitor your body’s response.

If discontinuing Citalopram becomes necessary due to severe headaches, it should be done through a proper tapering plan to avoid serious side effects. Abrupt discontinuation of Citalopram is not advisable. 


Keep yourself well-hydrated throughout the day while taking Citalopram, as dehydration may also trigger headaches in some individuals. Consume different fluids or juices if you have difficulty drinking enough water. 

Ensure enough sleep

You should follow a good bedtime routine to promote quality sleep. Get enough sleep for 8-9 hours daily, as it may help prevent the worsening of headaches caused by Citalopram. 

Avoid triggers

Identify and avoid any triggers that can exaggerate your headaches, such as excessive use of smartphones, electronic gadgets, noise, bright lights, strong odours, etc. 

Changes in routine

Change your daily routine by incorporating regular exercise, yoga, meditation, relaxation therapies, or walks. Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption, as these may also trigger headaches in some individuals. You may also get a good massage to feel better. 

What to do if Citalopram-induced headache persists?

If your headaches persist for more than two weeks, then please inform your doctor. Headaches associated with Citalopram are mostly reduced within two weeks as the body adjusts to the medication.

However, if the headaches do not go away on their own, there might be some other underlying problems. Your doctor may evaluate your current symptoms, family/medical history and other underlying factors that may contribute to headaches and guide you accordingly. 


While Citalopram can lead to headaches as a side effect, these headaches are manageable through pain relievers, dosage adjustments, lifestyle modifications, and maintaining good health practices. 

It is important to note that Citalopram-induced headaches may subside as your body adjusts to the medication. However, if they worsen or persist, you should inform your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. 

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