Celexa (citalopram) for preventing migraines


Citalopram (brand name Celexa) is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, that is commonly used to treat depressive and anxiety disorders. In some cases, your healthcare provider will also prescribe Celexa or another SSRI option to prevent migraines. It is considered a misuse, meaning it is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Often the drug is prescribed for people suffering from migraines and depression .

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How does it work

Citalopram, like all SSRIs, works by making more of the neurotransmitter serotonin available between nerve cells. Higher levels of serotonin have been shown to alleviate depression.

Rates of depression are higher in people with migraines than in the general population. but the exact connection between them is not entirely clear. Migraines can cause depression, depression can contribute to migraines, or there may be some common vulnerability to both.

Scientists believe that both migraines and depression may be associated with similar abnormalities in certain brain chemicals, but this has not been proven.

Also, there is no reliable scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of Celex or any other dosage form of citalopram in preventing migraines.

In fact, a 2015 review found that SSRIs, including Celex, were no more effective than placebo or amitriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant) in reducing the incidence of headaches in people with chronic tension headaches or migraines.

However, if you have depression and migraines, it might be worth a try.

Composition and use

Citalopram, either generic or celexa, is available in tablet and liquid form and can be taken with or without food.

In addition to possibly preventing migraines, citalopram has been shown to be helpful in obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder), post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Citalopram has not been formally approved by the FDA for use in children and adolescents, although it is sometimes used off-label in these populations for the treatment of depression and anxiety.


Citalopram tablets are available in doses of 20 milligrams (mg) and 40 mg; the liquid form provides 10 mg per 5 milliliters (ml).

Usually patients start with a dose of 10-20 mg once a day. Your healthcare professional may eventually decide to increase the dose, the maximum dose being 40 mg in most cases.

Citalopram, like all SSRIs, can fully manifest within a few weeks. Always take it at the same time each day and never change your dose without your doctor's approval. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but do not take a double dose to make up for the missed dose.

Take as directed

Follow the instructions you are given and never stop taking this or any other SSRI on your own. Your healthcare professional can advise you on how to gradually reduce your dose over time to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, and sensations like an electric shock.

Side effects

Citalopram, like all SSRIs, can have side effects. The most common include :

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Feeling sleepy or having trouble sleeping (insomnia)

They often get better in the first week or two if you continue to take the medicine.

Sexual side effects, such as problems with libido, orgasm, or ejaculation, are also common and may require a change in medication .

Rare and / or serious side effects include:

  • Increased bleeding
  • Low blood sodium levels: Symptoms may include headache, weakness, memory and concentration problems, or seizures.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma: Symptoms can include eye pain, vision changes, and swelling or redness in or around the eye.

Serotonin syndrome: a life-threatening complication

Serotonin syndrome is a serious medical condition caused by high levels of serotonin in the body. It can be caused by an SSRI overdose or by taking a combination of medications that increase serotonin levels.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Slow or fast heart rate
  • Hot
  • Headache
  • Muscular stiffness
  • Confusion
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shaking
  • Late students
  • Poor coordination
  • Fast breathing
  • Arrhythmia
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremble

In the most severe cases, serotonin syndrome can lead to coma, seizures, and even death.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have serotonin syndrome, call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room.

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Citalopram is used to treat depression, but there is a risk that it may make mood symptoms worse, especially early in treatment.

There is an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, adolescents and young adults under 24 years of age associated with Celexa. For this reason, there is a black box warning in the patient information that accompanies the prescription.

Patients, their families, and their caregivers should be alert to any mood swings such as anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts, especially during the first weeks of treatment.


Migraine medications called triptans , including Zomig (zolmitriptan) and Maxalt (rizatriptan), can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome when taken with citalopram. Be sure to tell your doctors if you are taking triptan.

Other drugs that can dangerously interact with citalopram include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) , including nardil (phenelzine), parnat (tranylcypromine), and marplan (isocarboxazid)
  • Orap (pimozide), antipsychotic (possible heart problems)

Citalopram can also increase the risk of bleeding, especially when used with other blood thinners such as aspirin or Coumadin (warfarin) .


Not enough studies have been done on the use of citalopram in humans to be sure how the drug might affect the fetus. Citalopram passes into breast milk in small amounts.

Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding so that you can weigh the risks and benefits of taking Celexa or its generic product.

Get the word of drug information

If your healthcare provider suggests Celexa (citalopram) as a migraine prevention agent, whether you are depressed or not, be sure to provide your complete medical history and a list of all your medications, including those that are excessive. over-the-counter medications and supplements. This is the best way to solve any security problem.

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