Does Citalopram cause vertigo? (5 factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Citalopram causes vertigo. We will also explore the potential link between Citalopram and vertigo, factors that can contribute to vertigo, and how to manage this side effect while taking and discontinuing Citalopram. 

Does Citalopram cause vertigo?

Yes, Citalopram does cause vertigo. Most patients experience dizziness when they start Citalopram treatment. Vertigo may also occur when Citalopram is abruptly discontinued. However, not everyone using Citalopram or discontinuing it may experience this side effect. 

What is the link between Citalopram and vertigo?

Citalopram may induce vertigo or dizziness in some patients because it works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. During the early phase of Citalopram treatment, serotonin levels in the brain are low. Citalopram starts working by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin in brain cells, thereby increasing these levels (1).

It takes around 1-4 weeks for Citalopram to begin showing its effects. During this period, some people may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or vertigo. These side effects may subside as the full therapeutic effects of Citalopram become noticeable, which usually takes around 8-12 weeks (2).

On the other hand, abrupt discontinuation of Citalopram after at least a month of use may lead to discontinuation syndrome. This syndrome may include symptoms such as imbalance, vertigo, flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, tingling sensations, aggression, and anxiety (3). 

Even though Citalopram can make people dizzy or have vertigo, there is a study that says Citalopram, which affects serotonin in the brain, may also reduce dizziness in people, whether they have ear problems or not (4). 

What factors can contribute to Citalopram-induced vertigo?

The following factors may contribute to Citalopram-induced vertigo:

  • Individual sensitivity to Citalopram.
  • Lower or higher doses as per the patient’s needs.
  • Patients with a history of ear problems.
  • Concurrent use of other medicines like anticonvulsants.
  • Vertigo can occur at any age, but elderly individuals are more prone to experiencing it (4). 

How to manage vertigo while using Citalopram?

Vertigo associated with the initial phase of Citalopram treatment may subside as the body adjusts to the medication. However, vertigo related to discontinuation of Citalopram may be managed in the following ways, as suggested by your doctor: 

  • A proper tapering plan is necessary for patients who have been taking the medicine for more than 4 weeks. 
  • If you are on a low dose of Citalopram, a faster tapering pace may be recommended. 
  • If severe symptoms are observed during Citalopram discontinuation, restarting the medication and tapering it more slowly may be necessary. 
  • Switching to another antidepressant while tapering may also help alleviate vertigo symptoms associated with Citalopram discontinuation (5). 

What to do if Citalopram causes vertigo?

If you experience vertigo while taking Citalopram, please inform your doctor. Your doctor may reduce your current dose and monitor your response to the medication. It is important to note that Citalopram-induced vertigo may subside as your body adjusts to the medication.

However, if it does not improve, dosage adjustment may be necessary. If your doctor suggests discontinuing Citalopram, it should be done under their supervision over several weeks to months, depending on the duration of the treatment. 


This article has discussed that Citalopram may cause dizziness in the early stages of the treatment, and that vertigo can be severe if Citalopram is suddenly stopped. It is important to note that not everyone experiences this adverse effect of Citalopram. 

Discontinuation syndrome may be observed in patients after prolonged use of Citalopram, which may include vertigo along with other side effects.

Several factors may influence the occurrence of Citalopram-induced vertigo, including individual sensitivity, a history of ear-related problems, or the use of other medicines. Any dosage change or discontinuation decision must only be taken by your healthcare provider. 

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