Does citalopram cause weight loss

Common questions about citalopram - NHS

How does citalopram work?

Citalopram is one of a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These medicines are thought to work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is thought to have a good effect on mood, emotion and sleep.

When will I feel better?

It may take 1 or 2 weeks before citalopram starts to work on your symptoms. It usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks before you feel the full benefits.

This is because it takes around a week for citalopram levels to build up in your body, and then a few weeks longer for your body to adapt and get used to it.

Do not stop taking citalopram after 1 or 2 weeks just because you feel it is not helping your symptoms. Give the medicine at least 6 weeks to work.

How will it make me feel?

Antidepressants like citalopram help lift your mood so you feel better. You may notice that you sleep better and feel less anxious. You will hopefully be more relaxed about things that used to worry you.

Citalopram will not change your personality, it will simply help you feel like yourself again.

Do not expect to feel better overnight, though. Some people feel worse during the first few weeks of treatment before they begin to feel better.

How does citalopram compare with other antidepressants?

Citalopram is not any better or worse than other antidepressants. But sometimes people respond better to one antidepressant than to another.

Talk to your doctor if you are not feeling any better after 6 weeks.

What's the difference between citalopram and escitalopram?

Citalopram and escitalopram are both medicines used to treat depression. They may sound similar, but they're different medicines.

Differences include:

  • citalopram doses are twice as much as those of escitalopram – this is because more citalopram is needed to have the same effect
  • the type and frequency of side effects you may get are different with each medicine
  • citalopram is not used to treat as many health conditions – escitalopram is also used to treat generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder
Are there other treatments for depression or anxiety that will help?

Antidepressants, including citalopram, are just one of several approaches to treating depression or anxiety.

Other treatments for depression and anxiety include:

  • talking therapy (such as cognitive behavioural therapy)
  • exercise programmes
  • help to get a good night's sleep
  • joining a self-help group
  • using relaxation techniques

If you're interested in any of these treatments, talk to your doctor.

Will I gain or lose weight?

Citalopram can make you feel less hungry, so you may lose weight when you first start taking it. Later on, you may gain a little weight as your appetite returns.

If you start to have problems with your weight while taking citalopram, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Will it affect my contraception?

Citalopram does not affect any type of contraception, including the combined pill or emergency contraception.

Can I drive or ride a bike?

Some people cannot concentrate properly while they're taking citalopram. It might be best to stop driving and cycling for the first few days of treatment until you know how this medicine makes you feel.

It's an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected. It's your responsibility to decide if it's safe to drive. If you're in any doubt, do not drive.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're unsure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking citalopram. GOV.UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving.

Can I drink alcohol while taking citalopram?

You can drink alcohol while taking citalopram, but it may make you feel sleepy. It might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine makes you feel.

Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?

There are no food or drinks you need to avoid while taking citalopram.

Will recreational drugs affect it?

Using cannabis with citalopram can give you a fast heartbeat and make drowsiness worse, especially in people who have just started taking the medicine.

It can be dangerous to take citalopram with:

  • stimulants like MDMA (ecstasy) or cocaine
  • hallucinogens like LSD
  • novel psychoactive substances (which used to be known as legal highs) like mephedrone

Find out more about the side effects of some recreational drugs on the Frank website.


Citalopram has not been properly tested with recreational drugs. Talk to your doctor if you think you might use recreational drugs while taking citalopram.

Page last reviewed: 9 February 2022
Next review due: 9 February 2025

Does Celexa Cause Weight Loss?

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 10/15/2022

Celexa (also referred to by the generic name citalopram) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This class of antidepressant medication increases serotonin levels in your brain as a way of keeping your mental health balanced and treating depressive disorders. 

This prescription medication does tend to work for many people dealing with a depressive disorder. One review of studies found that it was superior to a placebo in the treatment of depression.

But symptoms of depression aren't the only thing Celexa can be used to treat. It is also used in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder or panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, eating disorders, alcoholism and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

As with any medication, there are potential side effects. One side effect that some people talk about is weight loss.

Can Celexa Cause Weight Loss?

Citalopram is a prescription medication that can be taken in liquid or tablet form. Generally, a mental health professional will start you on a low dose and then increase it gradually. Doing so can help lower your risk of side effects.

Celexa is meant to be taken once a day with or without food. The starting daily dose for major depressive disorder is usually 10mg a day and the maximum dose is 20mg a day. 

Even if you start on a lower dose, you may experience side effects. Some of the more common side effects of citalopram include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, stomach pain, changes in your sex drive, decreased appetite and — yes — weight loss.

You should know, when it comes to weight fluctuations, it’s usually thought that antidepressants can lead to weight gain, rather than weight loss. There’s even evidence to back this up. In a large systematic review, it was found that most studies of weight changes and antidepressants concluded that there was an average of a five percent weight increase in people taking antidepressants. So, it may be confusing that one of the side effects is weight loss, rather than potential weight gain.

First, even though weight gain is a commonly-talked about side effect of antidepressants, it isn’t actually that common. Just 10 percent of people who are longtime users of SSRIs say they’ve gained some weight.

So, not everyone gains weight on antidepressants. And because one side effect of taking citalopram is a decreased appetite, you may notice you actually lose some weight. 

If you are bothered by any of the side effects of citalopram or you want to stop taking it for another reason, do not stop cold turkey. Instead, work with a healthcare provider to wean yourself off of it. By doing this, you can avoid withdrawal symptoms.

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Other Causes of Weight Loss

If you are taking Celexa for depression and notice you’ve lost weight, it could be a bit of a chicken and the egg situation. This is because major depression can cause some people to eat more or engage in less physical activity due to low energy levels or mood swings. So, then, if they start taking citalopram and those depression symptoms (like lack of energy) go away, they may become more active or eat a bit less and notice weight falling away.

If your weight loss isn’t connected to your depression, you should seek medical attention to look for the root of the issue. While it’s normal for weight to fluctuate a bit each month or week, or even day by day, weight loss of 10 pounds or more in the span of six to 12 months without trying is considered unexplained weight loss.  

There are a variety of other things and medical conditions that can cause unexplained weight loss, including: 

In addition to these things, there are more serious things that can cause weight loss. These include cancer, drug misuse and more.

If you notice you are losing weight, you should speak to an online psychiatrist so that they can monitor it and help you find a cause. 

What to Do About Weight Loss

A little weight loss isn’t a big deal — heck, it may even be welcomed by some. But if you notice a significant weight loss, it’s worth repeating: You really should speak with a healthcare provider about what to do and what might be causing this weight loss. 

If it’s determined your weight loss was caused by a decreased appetite due to taking Celexa, there are a few things you can do to put the weight back on — should you want or need to. 

If your weight loss has put you below a healthy body weight, this will be particularly important.

Here are some things you can do to gain weight in a healthy way: 

  • Reach for calorie-dense foods: Items like nuts and cheese are nutritious and filled with healthy fats. They will help bring more calories into your diet, so you can gain a little weight.

  • Try a protein shake: Another way to boost calories in a healthy way is through drinking protein shakes. They pack a lot of calories in a small amount, so even if you’re not hungry, you should be able to get through one. 

  • Go for many small meals: Can’t get through a big meal? No problem. Break your meals up into smaller meals throughout the day. The goal should be to eat every two to three hours. 

If you add about 500 calories a day to your regular diet, you should expect to gain about a pound a week.

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The Connection Between Celexa and Weight Loss

Celexa is a medication that is most often taken for the treatment of depression and certain anxiety disorders. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which means it works by boosting levels of serotonin in your brain.  

Like with many other medications, there are common side effects associated with taking Celexa. One such side effect is changes in weight. 

While it’s commonly thought that taking an SSRI may make some people gain weight, for some, taking Celexa can lead to a loss of appetite and even weight loss. Usually, this is nothing to worry about and will subside as you adjust to taking this medication. 

If you are looking to gain weight back, you can increase the number of calories you consume a day. 

If you lose weight while on citalopram, you should talk to a healthcare professional for medical advice. They can help you decide if you want to switch antidepressants or give you tips about lifestyle tweaks you can make to help address your weight loss.

10 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Citalopram. Medline Plus. Retrieved from
  2. Chu, A., Wadhwa, R., (2021, May 10). Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Stat Pearls. Retrieved from
  3. Keller, M., (2000). Citalopram therapy for depression: a review of 10 years of European experience and data from U.S. clinical trials. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Retrieved from
  4. Citalopram. National Alliance of Mental Illness. Retrieved from
  5. Celexa. Highlights of Prescribing Information. Retrieved from
  6. Alonso-Pedrero, L., Bes-Rastrollo, M., Marti, A., (2019). Effects of antidepressant and antipsychotic use on weight gain: A systematic review. Obs Rev. Retrieved from
  7. Medication Frequently Asked Questions. National Alliance of Mental Illness. Retrieved from
  8. Depression. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from
  9. Unexplained Weight Loss. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from
  10. How to Gain Weight Safely. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Study: antidepressants lead to weight gain

May 25, 2018, 2:58 pm

Widespread use of antidepressants may contribute to rising rates of obesity in developed countries. The risk of becoming overweight in those who take drugs to combat depression for a long time is 21% higher. This conclusion was reached by doctors at King's College London. The work was published in the medical journal The BMJ. This is reported by The Independent.

"The widespread use of antidepressants may be one of the reasons for the long-term increase in the weight of the world's population," said one of the co-authors of the work, Martin Gulliford.

The study showed that the risk of weight gain increased after 2-3 years of taking antidepressants. The risk of developing obesity and the appearance of extra pounds in such patients was 29% higher.

As noted by the authors, the findings suggest that antidepressants should be used less often in the treatment of mild forms of depression. In such cases, cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise should be a priority.

The study was based on health data from 300,000 British patients between 2004 and 2014. Information included data on patients taking antidepressants and their body mass indexes (BMI). The researchers adjusted for other factors that could influence weight, such as age, chronic illness, smoking, and other medications.

Weight gain of 5% of body weight or more within a year was 8.1% among patients not taking antidepressants. Among those who took medication to combat depression, the figure was 11.2%. After 3 years of taking antidepressants, the risk of gaining 5% of body weight per year increased to 46%. The study showed that the risk of becoming overweight is highest in the second and third years of taking antidepressants. In the next 6 years, the risk also remains elevated.

Researchers analyzed the effects of 12 common types of antidepressants on body weight. Thus, the drug mirtazapine (another name is remeron) in half of the cases led to an increase in the weight of patients by at least 5% of the body weight before taking the drugs. The drug citalopram increased the risk of weight gain by 26%.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the majority of antidepressant users are in Iceland. For every 1,000 Icelanders, there are 118 people who take drugs to fight depression. The top five also included Australia, Portugal, Canada and Sweden. In the sample of the OECD study, 35 member states of the organization are noted.

Meanwhile, in the ranking of countries by the level of happiness of the World Happiness Report, the states of Northern Europe, Australia and Canada have also been occupying leading positions for several years. For example, Iceland, the leader in the consumption of antidepressants, ranked 4th in the ranking of countries in terms of happiness in 2018. In 2017 and 2016, Icelanders were the 3rd happiest country in the world.

The material was provided by the "+1" project.



Celexa and weight gain: is there a connection, tips for weight loss and more



Weight gain is a common problem for people taking antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such like escitalopram (Lexapro) and sertraline (Zoloft).

Celexa, a variant of the drug citalopram, is another type of SSRI. It affects different people in different ways. This may cause you to gain or lose some weight, or not be able to change your weight at all.

If you are gaining weight, it can be the result of many different factors. Here's what you need to know.

Antidepressants and weight gain

Medicines used to treat depression can affect your appetite and metabolism. In some cases, these effects can cause weight gain or loss.

Celexa has been associated with moderate weight gain, but the drug itself is not thought to cause these effects. Instead, weight gain is likely due to improved appetite after taking the drug. Improved appetite can cause you to eat more, which leads to weight gain.

On the other hand, Celexa can also reduce appetite, resulting in mild weight loss. Studies have shown both effects. It is difficult to say whether to expect weight gain or weight loss.

In a 2014 study of over 22,000 patient records, amitriptyline, bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL) and nortriptyline (Pamelor) caused less weight gain than citalopram over 12 months.

Be aware that weight changes due to antidepressants are usually small, usually in the range of a few pounds. If Celexa has any effect on your weight at all, whether it's weight gain or weight loss, it's likely to be negligible.

If you think Celexa is making you overweight, do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor. Stopping Celexa abruptly can cause problems such as anxiety, mood swings, confusion, and trouble sleeping.

Your doctor may work with you to reduce your dose to reduce or prevent side effects.

Other possible causes of weight gain

Be aware that weight gain can be caused by other factors than just the medications you are taking.

For example, depression itself can lead to weight changes. Some people with depression have no appetite and others eat more than usual. It can be difficult to determine if weight changes are due to depression or medications used to treat it.

Many other factors can affect your weight. Talk to your doctor if you do any of the following:

  • Adopting bad habits such as:
    • being sedentary or spending most of the day sitting, lying down, or engaging in little physical activity
    • no exercise
    • eating a lot of foods or drinks that are high in sugar or fat
  • Taking certain medications, such as:
  • antipsychotics used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression
  • certain drugs used to treat diabetes, including insulin
  • There are certain health states and mental health problems, such as:
    • Hypothyroidism
    • heart failure
    • Problems with the digestive system
    • Chronic infection
  • They experience changes in female hormones caused by pregnancy or menopause.
  • If you've gained weight and are worried about it, try these tips to improve your diet and exercise more per day:

    • Avoid sweets and sugary drinks.
    • Replace high-calorie foods with tasty fruits and vegetables.
    • Give yourself smaller portions and eat more often throughout the day.
    • Eat slowly.
    • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
    • Go out and take a walk.
    • Start an exercise program as instructed by your doctor.

    It's always good to get professional guidance when trying to lose weight.

    Always consult your doctor before starting any physical activity. If you need help managing your diet, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian. For more tips on how to lose weight safely, see Additional Weight Loss Strategies.

    If you have gained or lost significant weight after taking Celex, talk to your doctor about what may have caused the change. Weight gain of 10 percent or more can be cause for concern, especially if it occurs in just a few weeks.

    If your doctor thinks your weight gain is due to your use of Celex, ask if lowering your dose or using a different antidepressant might help.

    If your doctor doesn't think your weight gain is due to your use of Celex, discuss what the real reason might be. If you are leading a healthy lifestyle but are still gaining unwanted weight, let your doctor know.

    In any case, feel free to talk to your doctor about your weight and ask any questions you may have. This may include:

    • Do you think Celex is causing the weight gain?
    • If yes, should I reduce the dose or switch to another drug?
    • What advice do you need to help me lose weight?
    • Can you refer me to a registered dietitian to help with my diet?
    • What are the right ways to become active?


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