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How Long Does It Take for Celexa to Work?

Katelyn Brenner FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 06/10/2021

Updated 06/11/2021

If you suffer from anxiety or depression, the struggle to find and get effective treatment can sometimes feel like summiting a mountain without the proper gear. 

Motivating yourself to get treatment, not to mention slogging through the process of addressing the condition—can all be a bit much for an overwhelmed brain. 

The good news is that treatment is available, and it is frequently effective when conducted and/or prescribed by a healthcare professional. 

Treatment might involve either talk therapy or medication, or sometimes both. 

If you’ve been prescribed Celexa and would like more information on how long it might take to work, read on. 

When exploring antidepressants, it’s helpful to understand depression. 

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by ongoing patterns of sad, empty feelings and/or a loss of interest in daily activities. 

Certain types of depression like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occur in certain periods or conditions, while others can be constant and persist over months or years. 

Typically, healthcare professionals are able to diagnose depression if a person experiences down feelings for a period of about two weeks (or more).

Various biological, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can lead to or exacerbate depression. It typically shows symptoms in the form of moodiness, anger, exhaustion and irritability. 

Depression can also lead to more serious issues, like sleep loss, reckless behavior, substance abuse, weight fluctuations and suicidal thoughts. 

It’s a pretty miserable condition, and warrants immediate and active treatment.

Antidepressant medications work by balancing serotonin levels in your brain. They help regulate mood disorders by creating more typical patterns of interaction with serotonin.

Celexa (also called citalopram in its generic version) is technically an antidepressant medication, with on-label capabilities for fighting other disorders. 

Studies have shown that citalopram is effective as a medication for depression. Research has also revealed it’s  safe and effective as an anxiety treatment.

Celexa is part of the group of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which help your brain find balance with serotonin levels. 

SSRIs prevent the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, which keeps more of it available in supply. 

Celexa in particular can also help in treating alcoholism, eating disorders, panic disorders and types of anxiety.

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Celexa is a typical SSRI: It’s prescribed as an oral tablet or liquid. It should be taken daily, at the same time, and can be taken with or without food. 

So, how long does it take for Celexa to work? Good news: Results may occur in as soon as one week or take up to four weeks. 

Note: Even if you feel good, don’t just stop taking your Celexa medication, as missing doses could cause side effects. 

Numbness, tingling, sweating, anxiety, confusion, headaches, nausea and more can all result from withdrawal. 

A doctor will likely take you off of this medication gradually by slowly lowering the dosages to prevent any negative effects.

Celexa is generally considered safe and effective, but there are side effects to watch for,, as with any other medication. 

Many will manifest in the first few weeks of treatment (if at all) and fade as your body gets used to the medication.

Antidepressants can be prescribed as early as two weeks after depressive symptoms have set in. 

The medications are neither addictive or habit forming, but some side effects can occur from stopping the medication.  

Consult with a healthcare provider before stopping a course of antidepressants, as in some cases (as mentioned above), side effects can include suicidal thoughts.

You’ll also want to contact a healthcare professional if you experience any of the following symptoms: stomach pain, changes in sex drive, excessive tiredness, heartburn, constipation, frequent urination, dry mouth, decreased appetite or weightloss, nausea, diarrhea or joint pain.

If you experience more severe symptoms, such as dizziness, irregular heart beat, fever, fainting, chest pain, shortness of breath or hallucinations, seek immediate medical care. 

Additional severe side effects could include: foggy memory, twitching muscles, hives, blisters, facial swelling or loss of coordination.

Once you have a Celexa prescription (which can be given by a variety of healthcare professionals, including online), it may take some time for the effects to become clear and balanced.

There are two factors to consider when determining how long it will take for Celexa to work. 

Celexa isn’t going to be an overnight miracle. 

SSRIs typically take some time to build up before the medication can show meaningful results. 

More importantly, a healthcare professional might prescribe you more than one dosage at first, before the right one for you is found. 

How long could this process take? Potentially months. 

While you can potentially see Celexa start to work in one to four weeks, SSRIs can take as many as 12 weeks to show their full beneficial effects.

You might have to try different dosages to find your ideal balance, and that could take more than half a year. 

Celexa has a fairly wide dosage range of up to 60 mg—though typically prescriptions don’t go higher than 20 mg in certain population groups (like children or the elderly). 

How long you stay on citalopram will vary depending on your symptoms of depression.

Your healthcare professional can help you find the right option. 

Whether you’re experiencing depression, anxiety or another mental health condition that warrants Celexa, the key to effective depression treatment is a balance between patience and vigilance. 

In other words, you’ll need to  give the medication time to work, while making sure that you’re still playing an active role in your own mental health. 

This can be particularly challenging—especially if your disorder is sapping your energy, focus and drive. 

One of the best ways to take an active role in your own health is to continue consulting healthcare professionals regularly throughout your treatment. 

Therapy is widely known to benefit mental health, especially when combined with medication. These mental health resources might be a great place for you to start, whether you’re seeking information or looking for an online psychiatry solution.

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