The Dangers of Celexa and Other SSRI Antidepressants

by | Apr 6, 2012

Celexa is an antidepressant used to treat depression as well as various forms of anxiety. It is in the group of psychiatric drugs called SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Other more well-known drugs in this category are Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. These drugs carry the FDA Black Box Warning which states the drug could increase suicidal thinking and behavior. These dangerous drugs should not be available to the public because they cause more harm than good and could be fatal.
The “theory” is that people who are continually depressed have low serotonin levels in their brain. By boosting those levels with the antidepressant, their mood is elevated to “normal” levels. To someone that isn’t an expert on brain chemistry, this sounds reasonable and like an easy fix. Forest Labs, the manufacturer of Celexa, is counting on you to believe that, but it is not true.
Serotonin is a natural substance in the brain. What really happens is that the drug inhibits the serotonin from being absorbed like it normally would, so that it is not metabolized and as a result, it builds up in the body. This can cause changes in the brain’s chemistry which basically means damage to the brain.
Instead of producing that elevated mood, SSRI antidepressants can do just the opposite and can cause even more very undesirable conditions. As the Black Box Warning indicates, they can increase suicidal thoughts and behavior. They can actually make the depression or anxiety worse. Those feelings acted upon mean murder and suicide. Convulsions, hallucinations and severe allergic reactions are also possible. Cardiac arrhythmia, blood pressure changes, mood swings and dizziness are not unheard of. Do these antidepressants sound like something that would really help you.
The manufacturer of Celexa in particular doesn’t appear to be looking to improve your mental health either as they have pleaded guilty to criminal charges regarding marketing of Celexa to children. Celexa is not approved by the FDA for use by children. Many parents of teens who committed suicide or attempted suicide while on the drug, have sued Forest Labs for fraud and negligence. They contend that Forest Labs did not warn the doctors or public about the known dangers of Celexa. Instead, they paid doctors to promote the drug and aggressively marketed the antidepressant for use by children and teenagers. This cost them over three hundred million dollars to settle but this is a nominal fee for a pharmaceutical company that makes billions of dollars a year from one drug.
More recently, Celexa now has another thorn in its side to its unsafe and dangerous reputation. It has been found that high doses can cause abnormal heart rhythms which can result in death. This is serious enough that the FDA has given new dosage and usage recommendations. Some patients were taking sixty milligrams a day of this antidepressant, but it has been found that more than forty milligrams could be fatal. Studies have shown that usage of over forty milligrams of Celexa can change the electrical activity in the heart resulting in a potentially fatal arrhythmia.
What comes to mind as a serious concern is what about pregnant women taking Celexa? Since whatever the future mom ingests goes into the baby’s bloodstream, how would any dosage of this antidepressant affect the baby’s heart? It wouldn’t be logical not to affect it. In fact, in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, it is sixty percent more likely that a baby will be born with heart defects if the mother is taking Celexa. There is also a forty percent chance that birth defects in general will occur, just from the fact that the mother is taking an SSRI.
Drug companies and psychiatric “experts” keep telling us that Celexa and other SSRI antidepressants are safe, but since when do potential violence and suicide, heart arrhythmias and baby heart defects come under the heading of safe? It would be wise to get yourself informed regarding the harms of psychiatric drugs so that you know the truth and don’t fall victim to this false declaration of “safety.”


  1. John

    been on it for about 7 weeks; started low and am up to 30 mgs and I do not notice any improvement in anxiety or depression, possibly worse. How do you get off this stuff???I tried a couple of other antidepressants and also nothing. I have nausea and anxiety still, and chills sometimes.

  2. Zoe

    Has anyone tried to take L-Theanine (from green tea) —— ——–

    • Leslie Duren

      I almost bought some green tea today at the store but hesitated my sister told me it made her feel sick

    • Margeaux

      Leslie, I just read your reply to Zoe. Did your sister drink the tea on an empty stomach? I have been drinking green tea for years. When I first tried, I also felt sick. I discovered when I drink the tea along with a meal or immediately following a meal, I am okay. I’ve read that green tea consumption can increase metabolism and some sensitive individuals have better outcomes consuming the tea with food. I’m theorizing this might be connected to green tea’s calorie increasing properties and the impact it can have on our blood sugar levels.

  3. Samantha

    Not quite understanding why everyone thinks this drug should be pulled off the market. I’ve been taking 40mg of Citalopram for 7-8 years now and it has made a significant positive impact for me. I have tried other antidepressants, though, and had such severe side effects that I couldn’t even give it enough time to see improvement. One made me suicidal. But those drugs work for other people, just like Citalopram works for me but not others. Not every drug works for every person. It can take time to find the right medication.

  4. Tamela

    I took one and within hours I was a complete mess …. all my problems (bills divorce, loneliness etc) was amplified x100 and I felt hopeless and distraught….. I couldn’t even sleep …..By the time morning came I got on my knees and cried and begged the creator to help me get back to my self…. I never took another again and refuse to take anything thing that assists with quitting smoking because they are basically the same… reading all the comments I know I did the right thing by disposing of them….. The doctors and pharmaceutical companies should be ashamed of themselves promoting these dangerous mind altering drugs

    • Leslie Duren

      You did the right thing by getting rid of any psychotropic pill we should not be on these things for years like they like it don’t ever for one minute think a doctor knows what he’s talking about because They don’t

  5. Rose

    Annette, you might tell your doctor that in law and medicine there is something called informed consent. My family member is successfully off Cekexa over a year once underlying infections were targeted. Some hiccups but Lyme plus coinfections are finally healing and issues are resolving. The process is slow and not yet 100% resolved but once you find the underlying root cause there is a light at the end of the tunnel. All the best

  6. Kristin Pappas

    Whoa!!! Wtf?! Hold the PHONE! I have been taking this drug for 20 years and have experience none of these things! I think there are people with specific brain chemistry which this drug helps with and I am one of those lucky few. I tried two handfuls of other types of antidepressants before finding this one and it has been miraculous! Just for the record? Unmedicated I had hallucinations throughout both of my pregnancies and in the postpartum. The second postpartum was what drove me to try antidepressants in the first place. Celexa improves my memory and my processing speed as well as the organizational nature of my thinking. I love this stuff! I had heart palpitations before starting Celexa and it fixed it. It also reduced my anxiety and boosted my mood and pulled me out of my depression. The unfortunate side effect for me was that I ended up gaining over a hundred pounds on it but that might have happened anyway. I I absolutely have to speak up in defense of this drug as it has been a lifesaver for me and I will defend it to my dying breath. As a side note? I was also a clinician in my community for 10 years working with people who had mental illness and other disabilities. I saw a ton of medications go up and down the pike and and Celexa never came up as a problem for people. That is just my experience on the ground. They had problems with drugs like Zyprexa and desipramine Etc. Anyway, thanks for your time. Not trying to poke the bear or anything.

    • Leslie Duren

      Good for you that’s works on some peoples body chemistry but 20 years that means the rest of your life

    • Leslie Duren

      I will defend wellButron till my dying breath but I’m not taking any more

  7. Annette Wray

    Sorry one other thing the doctor told was quit doing research on medications that they are trying to put me on that was there job

  8. Annette Wray

    I have been talking celexa for about 31/2 months now. The doctor started me on 20mg. After 2mons I felt as though I needed something else so he upped my celexa to 30mg. I suffer from bipolar, anxiety, panic disorder along with PTSD. At first it at 20mg was helping my depression but not everything else. Since he upped it to 30mg I have noticed a lot has changed in the short time I’ve been on it. I have really sometimes bad unusual dreams. I can really feel myself getting confused like nothing is making any sense to me I’m not making any sense to myself. I’m starting to distance myself from the things I’ve always enjoyed the most. I’m getting angry real easy. I think sometimes someone is out to kill me. Idk what to do. I’ve been on so many different meds trying to balance me out from my condition that I suffer from. I usually do my research on medications but I didn’t get in depth with this one until today after I noticed all these changes that are occurring with me. Everything that I’ve read has been very helpful so please can someone help me with this. I’m really scared to death.

  9. Leah

    You are looking at a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Find a good competent therapist.

  10. Aubrey

    I struggle severely with anxiety and OCD disorders. Body dismorphia. For an example I pluck my hair out on my head, eyebrows, eyelashes. Shave my scalp over and over again cutting into my skin until my entire head feels evenly smooth. I am a female btw. I’ve had countless cosmetic surgeries. Almost died because of one stint I did that I will not talk about on here. I pick my skin over and over again multiple times a day. I can’t hold down a job because of my issues. I can’t function daily doing normal things like making food for myself or going food shopping. I have no friends. Each year I keep getting worse. The first time I remember having these issues was being a little girl and I couldn’t leave the house cus my shoes felt unevenly tightened on my feet. I’m now 35 and it is so horrible! I am planning on taking my own life very soon because I can no longer cope. I have tried so many medications, but the one I’ve been on the past few years is Celexa. I tried going off of it once, tapered off very slowly over several months. At first I thought I felt better. A clear mind, but after several weeks my symptoms came back with a vengeance. So I started taking the celexa again. But it’s not helping. Nothing helps. Celexa is the only drug that I have been able to tolerate. Other drugs make me absolutely psychotic, depressed, and very angry. I don’t do that with celexa, but it is not helping me either. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’d appreciate any advice.

    • Leslie Duren

      Don’t leave this world leave big Pharma if nothing else get some help call the hotline life is always worth living even though it doesn’t seem that way all the time

  11. Anonymous

    I took celexa and 4 days into 20mg half doses i had went into a deeply depressed state of mind and went on a unusual drinking bender. Then blacked out and woke up with bruises and wounds all over. I sobered up and two days later had such bad suicidal thoughts I almost lost it. I stopped taking the pills and quit drinking…still have nearly uncontrollable urges to end my life. I hate celexa if you are impulsive or drink on the weekends do not take this or you’ll definately bev worse of.

  12. Marie

    I have taken celexa and /or other antidepressants for twenty years. I cry if I stop. I’m overweight and I’m just now deciding to try to stop all my medications gradually. I’m very afraid to stop, but I’m going vegan since I saw a documentary on a link between cancer and eating animal flesh. So I guess Im going to try to be healthy In every way possible…exercise, sleep habits, food intake and finally decrease my meds (over time.) I’ll keep researching the best way to live healthy…my husband and teenagers think I need my happy pill to stay positive…but I will increase exercise and pray I figure out the formula for a happy and healthy life. Anyone successful in getting their life in balance drug free.? Write some advice.

  13. Jim

    My wife was a super loving person. We could not have children but she absolutely lived for her cats. She adored me. We had such a great marriage. Yes some problems early like everyone. She loved church. Was very good with money. She was my best friend and soul mate. She suffered from bipolar. She took Wellbutrin and serequel and trileptal and started having seizures from the Wellbutrin. So she was taken off that and switched to Celexa. Our marriage started to crumble. She stopped going to church. She was so angry at me. She changed her friends and started doing risky behavior. Spending a lot of money. One morning I woke up and kissed her before work to come home later to her being gone. She quit her job of 14 years. She left her cats and all the things she once held so dear to her heart. The last words I’ve said to her were I will see you after work babe and I’ll make pork for dinner. I don’t think she even replied.

  14. Jim

    My wife left me after 5 months on the drug. We were together for 15 years. She left everything she use to care about and quit her job of 14 years. She use to go to church she was super nice and we were Best friends. Now I don’t know this person.

  15. Hannah

    Ive been on Celexa for almost a year now. I started off on 20 then 30 and then 40. Celexa has saved my life. I have been depressed since I was about 5 and I am 19 now. Celexa has really helped my anxiety and OCD as well. While it may not be a good solution for everyone, Celexa has definitely helped my quality of life. While on Celexa, im happier, im more energetic, and I am closer to my former self. I will say though, that no medicine should be used as a first resort to mental illness. Therapy and other options should be tried force before the use of medicine. I actually went on medication to make it easier for exposure therapy to be done. No medicine is good for absolutely everyone, but I know this one just happens to be what works best for me.

  16. Worried Mom

    My son was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (at 18 years old) and was given Lexapro (escitalopram) which he took for almost 2 years, then he was hospitalized in January and they switched his meds to Citalopram. He seemed to be doing ok, but recently he missed 4 days worth of doses and he became this mean horrible person. I’ve got him back on the meds but he began cutting himself last week, a lot of suicidal thoughts and he is so angry for no reason. he is 20 years old and I had to send him to live with my folks because I can’t handle it anymore and I’m exhausted not to mention I’m a single mom and I have a career which keeps me gone like 12 hours a day. The state they live in has more mental health opportunities and my folks can be with him 24/7. He has more support out of state with my folks. But they are just in shreds because they don’t even recognize my son anymore. My mom suggested we take him off of the meds all together and I was all for it especially after reading this.
    My question is, how long after we start the weaning off process will he start to feel better?

  17. Laura

    I have 6 months of the past year I can’t remember. My mood was completely different, I fought with my family, and left my husband. After I stopped taking it my mind cleared and I am trying to put my family back together. I just hope it’s not too late

  18. Rose

    Hi I have a couple of posts a few months ago by using a Naturopathic doctor to help you identify a genetic condition or underlying infection. I have now come across a condition called pyroluria. There is a great deal on the Internet. The condition as I understand it results in many of the symptoms mentioned in all these comments. It appears to cause specific vitamin deficiencies and also appears that a doctor well versed in treatment is the best way to proceed. Good health to all.

  19. Alanna

    I was prescribed Celexa at 13 years old. I became like a zombie, unfeeling, and any emotion I did have was usually harsh and angry. I became even more depressed, I developed severe eating disorders, and was suicidal. Only when I went off of antidepressants did I recover. Now I’m scared it altered my brain for life.

  20. Jill

    I’ve been on the generic for 5 years and a different one before that since 2002. I want to try getting off it , but everytime I try weaning off with a half tablet I get withdrawal symptoms- can’t concentrate, comprehend or think. I feel high in my head! Very hard to work like this. This just shows me how bad this drug is!

  21. Deja

    I’ve been on the generic of celexa since 2011ish. My doc gave it to me for ptsd, anxiety and depression. I’m on 40 mg and even taking it I’m having electric shocks. I want off but I’m scared because of the damage i think it’s already done let alone the damage is stopping (with serotonin syndrome which I’ve had in the past because of this drug). Help

  22. Yana

    My life has been ruined by celexa.

    • Jeff P

      Yana I know how you feel … I stopped taking citalopram after taking it for 8 months. I wish I never took it …

    • Christy Swain Cook

      I have been on Celexa for about 2 years now. I have also tried it in the past several years back for about a year. I am currently on 30 mg a day. I hAve had depression since 2012 when my dad passed away. And then my sister passed last year. I have trouble sleeping. My mind races when I try to fall.asleep. and once I am asleep, I wake up off and on tossing and turning. So throughout the day I feel very sleepy. I am tired and low energy all the time. I recently have been experiencing a muscle stiffness in my neck for about 2 weeks. I stay stressed out. There is another symptom that I feel is partly or mostly due to taking this medicine. I feel less compassionate, like a disconnected feeling from my emotion for empathy. I feel irritable most of the time. I am seriously considering talking to my doctor about wheen in myself off of the medicine. All of the comments have been very helpful. I pray that once I am off this medicine, that I don’t get the brain zaps. I know one of you said it affected your emotions. Has anyone else experienced this ?

  23. jay

    my wife shot her self when on celexa 20mg after 3 weeks

  24. HWD

    I’m writing as an advocate against Big Pharma and freewheeling doctors who overprescribe antidepressants before exploring better alternatives first.
    My mom is 70 and has been taking Celexa for about 10 years. She says she’s suffered from depression all of her life and takes Celexa “to be able to live with her husband” whom she describes as volatile and controlling.
    I’m vehemently opposed to antidepressants. In my mother’s case, she was prescribed Celexa right off the bat. She raves about the drug despite being uneducated about it. Her doctor asks her every three months whether she would like to stop and my mom says heavens no. (She says the doctor is required by law to ask.) But I’ve noticed personality changes in my mother. Pre-Celexa she was vibrant, present, and fun whereas now she seems lackadaisical, cloudy, and everything on an interpersonal level is an epic struggle.
    Recently I told my mom that she wants an easy solution to a complex problem. I argued that depression (or a manipulative husband) is natural while altering the chemical makeup of your body is not. Celexa exists to make a buck period. My mom’s doctor doesn’t love her neither does the pharmaceutical industry. Popping a pill is easy, what’s hard however, is to explore all of the other better solutions first. Then and only then should someone take Celexa or any other antidepressant as a last resort. This was real speak to my mother from her loving son.
    That night I told my wife that if she ever had to take a drug to be able to stand living with me that I would save her the trouble and she could buy a bullet instead, but she said she would just open the door. I wish my mother were that strong. I hope all women who read this are that strong.

  25. Mike

    This medicine should not be sold it and other’s like it should be taken off of the market. !! My DR JUST put me on this drug

    • Rose

      Hi Mike. Please see my reply today to Stephanie listed above. A good naturopathic doctor who can help identify genetic issues is a great place to start. If the symptoms of anxiety came on suddenly look at possible infections as well -our family member turned out to have Lyme disease Many are misdiagnosed when they have Lyme or other infections. Best of luck. Don’t give up and don’t believe you have to live with the anxiety. Look on the Lyme websites and you will be amazed at how many were prescribed psychiatric drugs without being checked for an underlying cause.

  26. Ian Macleod

    I know this is an old discussion but ill add my comment incase anyone else is thinking of taking celexa. I went to a go with anxiety and trouble sleeping. He prescribed 30mg celexa. Within 4 hours i was twitching and had lost all caring. I felt like i was turning into a murderer. My temper was so short i was lashing out before irritation had even registered on my mind. One tablet kept me awake for 2 days. It was the worst experience of my life.
    I went to see another gp who told me never to take any ssri ever again as they “dont suit everyone”
    I would have ended up being sectioned and or killing my family had i kept taking it.
    I have since sorted my anxiety with excersize, avoiding coffee and good diet/cbt.
    My advice is do not take them.

  27. Kelli

    I had been taking the generic brand of celexa for close to 5 years. When I told the nurse practitioner I had seen for a checkup that I didn’t like a lot of side effects I had been seeing she pretty much told me if it was working for me then I needed to go get psychiatric help because there’s no reason I shouldn’t be happy with it. I never saw her again. But it stuck with me what she said and scared me into continuing to take it. I’ve never had a weight problem and after 50lbs gained from taking it among several other side effects I’m trying to wean off of it. I’ll take half a pill about 2-3 times a month. It’s a process, a hard one, but I’ve lost 23lbs since and all the immune problems, heart arrhythmia, have gotten better. I’m pretty sure it was the reason for a surgery I had to have among other things. I can feel my anxiety coming on and it gets bad and I’ll have to take that half because I dont know what else to do. I’ve lost faith in doctors and to be quite honest am scared to go and talk to them about it. They made me feel stupid, crazy, and ashamed of my problem. I know I need something to help me but I’m not sure where to go from here. I’ve also tried St. John’s Wort with other supplements and it did nothing for me. Is there anything else anyone has tried that works better with less side effects? Wellbutrin XL? Or maybe a move to Colorado?! ? I wish more doctors were more about the patient than helping the financial wellbeing of pharmaceutical companies. I do know they are out there, I just haven’t found one yet as my general Doctor. Fingers crossed!

    • Donna Hardy

      ALL i know is my 12 year old granddaughter who had taken celexa since she was 10 took her own life by shooting herself in her throat and the bullet ripping out all of her teeth before it made it to her brain and causing her to be braindead. GOD BE WITH YOU I PRAY

    • M.williams

      Im. So very deeply sorry for your pain of losing your daughter was on zoloft i took her off when she started cutting herself shes they gave me celexa i still have not given it to her i have been doing glad i found this sight and seen your heartbreaking story heartbroken for you..but thankful i seen this ..i will be throwing her pills away..God bless you

  28. steve

    I was on Celexa for about 5 years and I’ve been off it now for almost 2 years and it seems my brain is not the Anxiety is back and been getting brain zaps from time to time…im too frightened to go back on any anti-depressant…i guess time will heal me..

  29. Donna Hardy

    My 12 year old granddaughter had been taking the generic form of celexa since she was ten and she shot herself and died this past march 7th. Oh why weren’t we warned about this drug before it was too late?

    • CCHR

      I am so very very sorry to learn of your loss. Have you reported this abuse? If not please take the time to fill out our abuse case form online so that we can help prevent this from happening to other children.

    • stephanie

      But what do we do when we have to try something because my 15- year old is suicidal and the doctor is prescribing seroquel and celexa and telling us to “wait and see.” I’m so worried because Celexa stopped working and the combination of Celexa and Seroquel is not helping either. What do I do? What do I do?!

    • Donna Hardy

      Just keep a close eye on her and listen to what she is saying. Make sure there is nothing around that she can hurt herself with. Keep reminding her how much you love her and how much it would hurt if anything were to happen to her. Assure her that things do get better, it just takes time. Take her to another doctor and get a second opinion because you can’t just wait and see. Last but least PRAY AND PRAY THAT THE LORD WILL HELP HER. My prayers wil be with you also.Donna

    • Bob

      Low vitamin B12 causes depression and low L-tryptophan cause also cause serious mental and emotional issues. citalopram (Celexa) can also cause long term brain damage. My psychiatrist failed to tell me that. I’ve been on citalopram for over 8 years. I was told I’m bipolar by 4 psychiatrists. I am not. Your daughter can be tested for low b12. Research b12 online.

    • Rose

      Hi I know a long time has passed since your post but I have some information that might help as it did for our teen family member. We found a naturopathic doctor who had written an article about SSRI’s often not working with certain genetic issues. We had her tested for the MTHFR MUTATION WHICH Came out POSITIVE BOTTOM LINE IS SHE WASNT MAKING ENOUGH SEROTONIN. SUPPLEMENTS HELPED BUT ITS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS HELP FROM A GOOD NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS BESIDES PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS. On top of that when her anxiety increased she was misdiagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. A year later a neurosurgeon tested her for Lyme disease and that came out positive. Many children and teens could have PANDAS which is psychiatric issues brought on by strep or other infections and which clears up when the underlying infection is addressed. Don’t just go along with mainstream treatments. Find the underlying cause to cure the problem rather than mask it. Best of luck

  30. Anonymous

    Why on earth hasn’t this received more media attention?

    • Robert

      To name a few manufacturers:Agilect / rasagiline : Teva Pharmaceuticals; Aricept / donepezil : Pfizer; Buspar / buspirone : Bristol-Myers Squibb; Celexa / citalopram : Forest Laboratories who pay millions to lie about their product. FDA is responsible for keeping dangerous drugs from the public. Maybe the FDA is getting some of those millions as pay off.

  31. Amanda E

    I was prescribed celexa a few months after the birth of my first child. I would have hallucinations of my child hanging by her neck from the ceiling fan over the dinner table. I immediately informed my doctor about this and she took them away right away. I still have nightmares about it though 11 years later. What a horrible thing to “see” when you walk in the door after a long day at work, not to mention my family thought I was crazy!!!


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