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Citalopram & Weight Loss

author image Shelley Moore
Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.
Citalopram & Weight Loss
Citalopram can cause many side effects. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Citalopram, commonly known as the brand Celexa, is a prescription antidepressant medication. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, it works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin elevates mood and maintains mental balance. Some people lose weight when taking citalopram, although the effect usually is small. Consult your doctor if you lose too much weight when using this medication.

Weight Loss Incidence

During premarketing clinical trials with citalopram, weight loss was a frequent event in participants taking citalopram as opposed to a placebo, according to DailyMed. At least one in 100 patients lost weight while taking this medicine. However, the average weight loss was only 0.5 kg. Groups taking a placebo generally had no change in weight.

Digestive Side Effects

DailyMed does not offer an explanation of why you might lose weight while taking citalopram. However, some side effects associated with this medication could be connected with weight loss. In clinical trials, of 1,063 patients taking citalopram at doses ranging from 10 to 80 mg per day, up to 21 percent in some studies experienced nausea, and up to 4 percent experienced vomiting. Four percent of participants discontinued the medicine due to nausea and 1 percent discontinued it due to vomiting. In addition, up to 8 percent of participants in some studies developed diarrhea, up to 5 percent indigestion and up to 3 percent abdominal pain. PubMed Health also lists loss of appetite as a possible side effect.

Breastfeeding Concerns

Like many other drugs, citalopram passes into breast milk, making the medicine inadvisable for nursing mothers. DailyMed notes two reports of infants experiencing weight loss while they were being breastfed by a mother taking citalopram. One infant recovered completely after the woman stopped taking the drug; no follow-up information was available in the other case. If you take citalopram and want to breastfeed, you and your doctor must decide whether you should discontinue citalopram or decide to forego breastfeeding.


Citalopram is associated with numerous other side effects besides weight loss and digestive issues. Some possible adverse effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, tiredness, sweating, excitement, nervousness, muscle or joint pain and changes in sex drive or sexual function. Citalopram carries a black box warning because a small number of children, teenagers and adults up to 24 years old who took antidepressant medication during clinical studies developed suicidal thoughts or behavior.

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