How long does citalopram stay in your system?

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In this guide, we will discuss how long Citalopram stays in your system. 

We will also briefly discuss what Citalopram is, it’s side effects and additional considerations that are to be taken when using this drug. 

How long does Citalopram/Celexa stay in your system?

If you have been taking Citalopram for a long time, the drug can stay in your system for up to two weeks or 10-14 days. 

However, if you have just started taking citalopram, it will take at least a week- 7 days or longer- for the drug to be completely removed from your system since the half life of the drug is approximately 35 hours meaning it takes 35 hours for the body to get rid of the 50% of the drug.

However, the length citalopram remains in the body also depends on many factors such as how much and how often you have taken the drug, your metabolic rate, your age and overall health, body mass, etc.

What are some factors that can slow down the removal of citalopram?

There are some  factors that can slow down the time it takes for the drug citalopram to be completely removed from your body. The factors include:

  • The accurate length of the drug’s half-life is one factor. 
  • Indivdiauls’s age- the older you are the longer it takes for the body to actively remove the drug. 
  • Weight is another factor- the higher the weight or the larger the body mass- the slower the removal. 
  • Metabolism is another factor- where the circulatory system of individuals who have slower metabolism rates will find that the drug remains in the system longer. 
  • Health conditions- for people with renal or hepatic failure takes longer since 80% of the drug is removed by the liver and 20% by the kidney.

What is Citalopram?

Citalopram is an antidepressant and is part of a class of antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). 

Celexa, the brand name of citalopram,  is FDA-approved and prescribed by physicians for the treatment for the symptoms of major depression. It is also to be mentioned that the drug is also prescribed for off label uses to treat anxiety disorders such as- PTSD, Panic disorder, and also eating disorders. 

How does Citalopram Affect The Brain and Body?

Citalopram is believed to treat depression by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance, in the brain.

It is a SSRI- a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor which means that the drug slows down the uptake of serotonin in the brain making the levels of the neurochemical higher for people with depression who are typically observed to have lowered levels of serotonin.  

It is to be mentioned that this drug can affect not just the brain chemicals but also one’s bodies. It can cause various side effects such as lethargy, nausea, dry mouth, loss of appetite, blurred vision, and increased yawning. 

What are the side effects of citalopram?

Like all medicines, citalopram can cause side effects, however it is important to mention that many people who take the drug did not experience side effects or when they did, they were minor. 

Common side effects

  • dry mouth
  • sweating a lot
  • being unable to sleep
  • feeling sleepy
  • feeling tired or weak

Serious side effects

  • chest pain 
  • shortness of breath
  • severe dizziness or passing out
  • painful erections 
  • any irregular bleeding that do not stop within 10 minutes

Common side effects of this drug usually improve as your body gets used to the drug and might even disappear after prolonged use. If you observe any serious side effects, reach out to your doctor immediately. 

However, if you notice that the symptoms persist even after two weeks, it is best that you speak to your doctor to adjust a more appropriate dose. 

How to take citalopram?

The best way to take citalopram is exactly as prescribed by your doctor while also being educated about the directions given on your prescription label. 

The usual dose of citalopram is 20mg a day in adults however your doctor might start you at a lower dose and increase to a maximum dose of 40mg a day.

If you’re over the age of 65, or have liver problems, the maximum recommended dose is 20mg a day.

In children 10mg a day is the recommended usage, but this may be increased to 40mg a day while with liquid drops of citalopram, 4 drops is equivalent to a 10mg tablet.

Make sure that you keep using the drug as prescribed even if it might seem like there are no improvements as it takes up to 4 weeks for symptoms to improve. 

Do not stop using citalopram suddenly as you might experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Discontinuing the use of this drug must be under the guidance or observation of your physician. 

What are the risks and precautions when taking citalopram?

Some of the precautions and risks you should be aware of when taking this drug include:

  • Allergy of citalopram or escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • if you also take pimozide.
  • If you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days.
  • If you have a bleeding or blood clotting disorder
  • If you have a liver or kidney disease;
  • If you have narrow-angle glaucoma;
  • If you experience seizures or epilepsy;
  • If you are at risk of heart disease, heart failure, or recent history of heart attack;
  • If you have a personal or family history of Long QT syndrome;
  • Experience an electrolyte imbalance (such as low levels of potassium or magnesium)
  • If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • Or have a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts.
  • If you are trying to become pregnant, already pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you have diabetes, citalopram can make it difficult to keep your blood sugar stable.

If you are at risk of any of these factors mentioned above, make sure that you speak to your doctor and keep them informed because discussing the use of citalopram for the treatment of depression.


In this guide we have discussed how long citalopram stays in one’s body and what are some factors that influence it’s retention in the body. We have also discussed some of its effects and risks.


Citalopram-Brand name: Cipramil. NHS. 10th Dec, 2018. Retrieved on 18th Nov, 2021.

How Long Does Celexa Stay In Your System? Therecoveryvillage. Retrieved on 18th Nov, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How long does Citalopram stay in your system

What happens when you stop taking citalopram?

If you stop taking Citalopram suddenly, you can experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, nausea, feeling dizzy, vomiting, nightmares, headaches. It is highly recommended that you talk to your doctor first before stopping the treatment. 

How long does citalopram take to wear off?

Citalopram is believed to be very effective and there are no reports as to after how long the positive effects of the drug start to wear off. 

As long as you are consistent with your dosage, the positive effects of the drug in treating depression symptoms should be the same, even after years of treatment.

What is the half-life of citalopram?

It is believed that the half-life of Citalopram is 35 hours and 80% is cleared by the liver and the remaining 20% by the kidneys.

However, this can vary depending on metabolism, body mass, life stye, liver and kidney functioning. 

Will citalopram show up in a drug test?

Technically drug tests are performed to detect certain substances in a person’s body and if antidepressants such as citalopram are not cited on the list- they normally are not- the drug will not show up unless it is a specific “antidepressant drug test”.

Can you lose weight on citalopram?

Citalopram can cause you to lose weight when first starting the treatment due to side effects like loss of appetite.

However, long term you can notice you have gained some weight, mostly because your appetite returns.

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