Celexa was first synthesized in 1989 by the pharmaceutical corporation Lundbeck. Lundbeck acquired a patent for it that expired in 2003, allowing for a generic version to be marketed by other companies. Lundbeck has since developed a reformulated version called escitalopram, which is the S-enantiomer of the racemic citalopram. This drug is known as Lexapro and Forest Labs produces and markets the drug in the United States.
Citalopram is approved by the FDA to treat the symptoms of major depression. It also has a wide array of off label uses that include anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, social phobia, and eating disorders. Citalopram has also displayed effectiveness in treating diabetic neuropathy, premature ejaculation, and post-stoke pathological crying.
Like most antidepressant medications, side effects are a definite possibility with treatment. For citalopram the side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, drowsiness, nervousness, dry mouth and changes in sex drive or performance. These sexual effects usually manifest as a difficulty in achieving orgasm otherwise known as anorgasmia. Citalopram also works as a mild antihistamine which may be responsible for its somewhat sedating effect. This drug also contains a black box warning that it may cause suicidal idealization or actions in those under 24.
The adverse effects of citalopram are theoretically caused by an increase of serotonin in the body. This increase of serotonin concentrations means that other drugs with a similar mechanism should be avoided. These include other antidepressants but also supplements such as St Johns Wort, tryptophan or 5-HTP. The danger of too much serotonin is known as Serotonin Syndrome, which has the potential to be lethal.
The drug that is most similar to Celexa is Lexapro, which is simply a new and improved version of Celexa where one side of the molecule was isolated and marketed. Lexapro is twice as potent milligram to milligram and is thought to have a lower chance of side effects. Other drugs of the SSRI class include Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.
Celexa is not an addictive substance and is not associated with drug seeking behavior.
SSRI discontinuation syndrome can become a reality for those who choose to abruptly cease their citalopram therapy. Setting up a tapering plan with a doctor is the recommended route for those choosing to discontinue treatment.
As with most medications Celexa overdose is possible. The effects of overdose may include dizziness, sweating, shakiness, trouble breathing and even loss of life.