Does citalopram help with stress? (+ 3 medications)

In this article, we will discuss whether citalopram helps with stress. We will also explore research studies linking the use of citalopram in stress management, along with other medications that may be considered if citalopram proves ineffective for stress relief.

Does Citalopram help with stress?

Yes, citalopram may help with stress, particularly stress associated with certain mental disorders. The medication works by increasing the levels of serotonin, which can positively impact mood and alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders (1). 

However, it’s crucial to note that the effectiveness of citalopram can vary from person to person. Additionally, its use for stress management should be discussed with a healthcare professional who can assess the individual’s specific situation, provide guidance, and consider potential side effects or interactions with other medications.

If you are experiencing stress or related symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider to determine an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.  

What does research suggest?

Research indicates that citalopram may contribute to stress reduction. One study suggests that, although citalopram primarily influences serotonin, its prolonged use might impact noradrenaline levels in the brain, potentially mitigating the stress response associated with noradrenergic activity (2).

Another study reports symptomatic improvement in patients with underlying depression and stress after a few weeks of citalopram treatment, noting a subsequent reduction in cortisol levels (3).

These findings suggest a multifaceted influence of citalopram on neurotransmitter systems and stress response in individuals dealing with depression and stress.

What to do if citalopram fails to manage stress?

Medications like citalopram usually show improvement in symptoms after 2 to 3 weeks of treatment. If your symptoms are not improving even after weeks of using citalopram, you should consult your healthcare provider.

They may assess your symptoms to determine the cause of treatment failure and may recommend non-pharmacological interventions for managing stress, in addition to medications.

However, if your condition does not improve even after following these interventions, your healthcare provider may modify your treatment plan through dosage adjustment or discontinuation of medication.

It is important to note that discontinuation of citalopram should be done gradually to avoid withdrawal effects. Simultaneously, an alternative medication can be started at a low dose.

What other medications can help with stress?

Several medications may be used for stress management, depending on the specific symptoms and underlying conditions. It’s crucial to note that the choice of medication should be determined by a healthcare professional based on an individual’s health history and needs. 





Beta-Blockers  propranolol 




What are the management tips for stress?

In the pursuit of stress management, it is advisable to explore non-pharmacological interventions before considering medications. Here are some management tips that you can follow to reduce stress and enhance your well-being: 

  • Engage in slow, deep breaths to calm the nervous system. 
  • Regular exercise helps release built-up tension and improves mood.
  • Ensure you get enough quality sleep each night.
  • Practice mindfulness to stay present and reduce stress. 
  • Focus on positive aspects of your life.   
  • Focus on positive aspects of your life.
  • Enjoy calming music to reduce stress.
  • Practice yoga for a combination of physical and mental well-being. 
  • Spend time with animals for companionship.
  • Surround yourself with positive influences.
  • Learn and apply cognitive-behavioral strategies.

In my experience

In my experience, the use of citalopram is not commonly recommended for the management of stress in clinical settings. Healthcare providers often prefer to refer individuals to non-pharmacological approaches for managing stress.

However, in cases where stress is accompanied by depression, anxiety, or other medical disorders, citalopram may be prescribed for its effectiveness in reducing feelings of sadness and regulating mood and behavior in such patients.

The decision to use citalopram is typically based on a thorough assessment of the individual’s overall mental health and the specific symptoms they are experiencing. 

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Sharbaf Shoar N, Fariba KA, Padhy RK. Citalopram. [Updated 2023 Nov 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Nikisch, Georg & Mathé, Aleksander & Czernik, Adelheid & Thiele, Jutta & Bohner, Jürgen & Eap, Chin & Ågren, Hans & Baumann, Pierre. (2005). Long-term citalopram administration reduces responsiveness of HPA axis in patients with major depression: Relationship with S-citalopram concentrations in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and clinical response. Psychopharmacology. 181. 751-60. 10.1007/s00213-005-0034-3.


Kawahara Y, Kawahara H, Kaneko F, Tanaka M. Long-term administration of citalopram reduces basal and stress-induced extracellular noradrenaline levels in rat brain. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Sep;194(1):73-81. doi: 10.1007/s00213-007-0826-8. Epub 2007 May 30. PMID: 17534604.

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