Is Celexa (Citalopram) Safe While Breastfeeding?

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After pregnancy, a few mothers may experience anxiety attacks, panic disorders, or postpartum depression. Citalopram or Celexa is a common antidepressant prescribed by a medical professional considering its potency. But, you may wonder, “Is Celexa safe during breastfeeding?” As you’re breastfeeding, there is a chance for the over-the-counter (OTC) drug Celexa to reach the baby through the milk, which may restrict you from taking this antidepressant. Keep reading the post as we have included information on Celexa to clear your doubts. However, if you are still confused, visiting the doctor could help you.

What is Celexa (Citalopram)?

Celexa is the brand name of the drug Citalopram. Citalopram is an antidepressant, which falls in the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Citalopram is used to treat anxiety, depression, and some other mental conditions such as panic disorder (1).

SSRIs increase the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps with mental balance and improves mood. SSRIs are very effective in the treatment of postpartum depression. SSRIs are also used during pregnancy to treat severe depression and anxiety symptoms (2) (3).

Is It Safe To Use Celexa While Breastfeeding?

Celexa is generally safe to use while breastfeeding. However, like all drugs, Citalopram also transfers into your breast milk but in low amounts. The common side effects in your baby due to your Citalopram use are increased fussiness and drowsiness. Citalopram doesn’t cause any adverse effects on the development of nursing infants.

  • If you used Celexa during your pregnancy and if have depression symptoms after birth, your doctor may ask you to continue using Citalopram. However, your doctor may ask you to monitor your baby’s behavior for any side effects (4).
  • If you have been using Citalopram during your pregnancy, your doctor is not likely to change the medication while you are nursing your baby. But in cases of preterm births, your doctor may prescribe you a drug that passes into breast milk in even lower amounts than Celexa (5).
  • If you are a nursing mother, use Citalopram while breastfeeding only if your doctor approves it.

Side Effects Of Celexa While Breastfeeding:

Celexa can cause many side effects while you are breastfeeding (1).

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss

At times, taking Celexa while breastfeeding can also cause severe side effects that may require immediate medical attention.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • High fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rash or blisters
  • Swollen hands, feet, throat, tongue, or lips
  • Poor concentration or problems with memory
  • Seizures

Using SSRIs While Breastfeeding:

The use of SSRIs such as Citalopram is considered safe during breastfeeding. Nursing infants do not experience any major side effects or developmental problems with maternal use of SSRI drugs.

But your doctor may prescribe you SSRIs while you are breastfeeding only when it is necessary for your health. If you have not been taking any antidepressants during your pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe you a drug that secretes into breast milk in the least possible amounts. Citalopram may not be your doctor’s first choice of SSRI while you are breastfeeding if you have not been using it during your pregnancy or before it (4). There are several medications that are compatible with breastfeeding and no mother should feel like she has to choose between breastfeeding and taking care of her mental health concerns.

Handling Depression While Breastfeeding:

Many women suffer from depression due to extreme physical and emotional changes after giving birth. Untreated depression can cause severe damage to a woman’s health. Therefore, if your doctor considers it absolutely essential to prescribe you a safe antidepressant drug while you are breastfeeding, you can consider using it without fear of severe side effects (6).

  • Women with postpartum depression can experience many symptoms such as negative thoughts, decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, irritability and panic attacks.
  • Celexa is considered an effective medicine to treat postpartum depression. So, talk to your doctor about its benefits versus side effects for you to treat your depression or anxiety symptoms.
  • Seek support from your partner and family, which can be extremely beneficial for sufferers of depression.

Postpartum depression in no way means that you are a bad or inadequate mother. It is a medical condition that is easily treatable. Seek the counsel of your doctor and don’t be wary of all antidepressants while breastfeeding.

Celexa or citalopram is a common antidepressant available OTC. The drug does not cause any major complications, but it may cause increased crankiness and sleepiness because it passes in the breastmilk. While the drug is usually considered safe for nursing mothers, it is strongly recommended to use it only with the doctor’s consent. The doctor will evaluate your mental health requirements and prescribe the drug if necessary.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Citalopram.
    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699001.html#:~:text=Citalopram%20is%20used%20to%20treat
  2. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
    https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/medicines-and-psychiatry/ssri-antidepressants/overview/#:~:text=It’s%20thought%20to%20have%20a
  3. Franco De Crescenzo et al.; (2014); Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for post-partum depression (PPD): a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24139299/
  4. S. Misri et al.; (2000); Are SSRIs safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2144975/?page=4
  5. Citalopram | Escitalopram (Celexa® | Lexapro®).
    https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/citalopramescitalopram-celexalexapro-pregnancy/pdf/
  6. What Is Postpartum Depression?
    https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression
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Morgan Jackson

(BSN, RN, IBCLC)
Morgan Jackson is a Registered Nurse, IBCLC, mother of two adventurous boys, and wife to a loving husband! She feels privileged to be able to serve other mothers as they navigate infant feeding and early motherhood. Morgan is the owner of Prepared Beginnings Lactation, a holistic lactation practice supporting moms who feel stuck, hopeless, or frustrated with their infant feeding... more

Jessica Albert

Jessica Albert is a passionate writer who seeks to connect with her readers through wit and charm. Her work aims to invoke curiosity and keep the readers engaged through and through. She has prior experience working with magazines and e-commerce establishments as a content marketer and editor. Being a mother herself, she puts all her knowledge into creating content about... more

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