Sounds like 'Sit-al-oh-pram'

Easy-to-read medicine information about citalopram – what it is, how to take citalopram safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antidepressant
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Celapram
  • Arrow-Citalopram

What is citalopram?


  • The usual dose of citalopram is 20 milligrams once a day.
  • Some people may require higher doses.
  • Your doctor may start you on half a tablet daily and increase the dose gradually. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces unwanted side effects.
  • Always take your citalopram exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much citalopram to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take citalopram

  • Take citalopram at the same time each day, either in the morning OR in the evening.
  • You can take citalopram with or without food.
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking citalopram. It can increase your chance of side effects.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day.
  • But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Keep taking citalopram every day. It may take 4 to 6 weeks before you experience the full benefits of citalopram.
  • Do not stop taking citalopram suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, citalopram can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Try taking citalopram in the morning
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy, dizzy or tired
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Tremor
  • Impaired sexual function
  • These are quite common when you first start taking citalopram and usually go away with time
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Changes in heart beat such as fast heart rate or irregular heart beat  
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rashes, itches, blisters, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or have problems breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116
  • Signs of serotonin syndrome such as feeling agitated and restless, heavy sweating, shivering, fast heart rate or irregular heart beat, headache, diarrhoea and rigid or twitching muscles 
  • You are at increased risk of serotonin syndrome if you recently started taking citalopram or recently increased the dose
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine 0800 611 116


Citalopram interacts with a number of medications and herbal supplements (such as St. John's Wort) so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting citalopram or before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

The following links provide further information on citalopram.

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets:

Arrow Citalopram

New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: Citalopram

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Dr J Bycroft. Health Navigator NZ