What Is Citalopram Used For?
Citalopram is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. SSRIs act on a specific chemical within the brain known as serotonin. Serotonin is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin. The serotonin enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. When the levels of serotonin become unbalanced, however, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression. Citalopram helps to block the reuptake of serotonin so more remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the serotonin a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
Citalopram is not approved for use in children. Two studies looked at using citalopram for childhood depression, but these studies did not show that the medication was effective. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of giving this drug to children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medication for treating something other than depression. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are several off-label citalopram uses, including treatment of the following conditions:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Eating disorders (including anorexia and bulimia)
- Hot flashes
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Premature ejaculation (see Celexa and Premature Ejaculation)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Tourette syndrome.
Also, since citalopram is not approved for children, prescribing it for any purpose in children is considered an off-label use.