Citalopram and hair loss (A brief guide)

Citalopram and hair loss

In this brief guide we will discuss “Citalopram and hair loss”, what is Citalopram, how can you overdose, side effects and when to seek medical assistance.

Citalopram and hair loss: Side effect?

Citalopram and hair loss as a side effect of taking the medication has been a topic that generates a lot of panic in some people.  It has been evidenced in some cases that hair loss accelerates when the dose of Citalopram is increased. 

Losing hair, in general, is very distressing for both men and women but when the hair loss becomes evident or noticeable, that is when some people start panicking. Hairloss can happen for multiple reasons such as aging, extremely stressful situations, hormonal imbalances, anemia or due to certain medications. 

In the case of medications, if you started taking Citalopram or any other medication, this could be happening as a side effect but it is usually temporary.

A case Study: Citalopram and hair loss association

Citalopram is considered a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRIs. This type of medication is prescribed for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Researchers have investigated hair loss due to the intake of SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants and other classes of antidepressants.

In a study from 2000, the study reported the case of a 50-year-old divorced white woman that was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was initially treated with Clonazepam but she reported nightmares and continuing depressive symptoms so the medication stopped. 

She was then treated with Citalopram with a starting dose of 20 mg and then they doubled the dose to 40 mg a day. A couple of months later she reported losing clumps of hair while shampooing. Dermatological testing was performed to rule out possible underlying medical conditions but none were found. 

The researches then concluded that the association between Citalopram and hair loss was made possible when the dose was increased from 20 mg to 40 mg and the patient started to lose her hair. Few cases have reported an association between Citalopram and hair loss, so there is conflicting information to be able to confirm that Citalopram intake causes hair loss. 

Citalopram and hair loss (A brief guide)

Is there something I can do to stop hair loss?

There are certain things that you can do to help with new hair growth. No, if you are thinking about going bald that is not the kind of advice we have in mind.  

There are some products in the market and techniques that can help you with hair growth. Here are the most effective:

  • Massage your scalp with the use of hair oils and masks. This will stimulate your scalp and help improve hair thickness. 
  • Aloe vera: this is known to treat hair loss, it also helps to soothe the scalp, reduce dandruff and stimulate growth.
  • Coconut oil: massage your scalp and hair with coconut oil, leave overnight and wash it the next morning. 
  • Viviscal: this is a natural hair-growth supplement that improves hair growth in people with thinning hair. This supplement contains a marine extract that contributes to regenerate new cells and strengthen existing cells. 
  • Biotin: this vitamin is part of the Vitamin B family and has been proven to help in keeping your hair, skin, and nails healthy.
  • Multivitamin complex: take a vitamin supplement to help your body stimulate the follicles to give birth to new hair. 

Recommendation

If you are starting to lose hair more frequently we advise to contact your doctor and let him/know about your concerns. Additionally, he could perform some exams and additional testing to rule out any additional underlying problems to the hair loss.

What is Citalopram exactly?

Citalopram is a type of antidepressant (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRI), as we discussed previously, often used to treat depression and also sometimes it is prescribed to treat panic attacks. 

Research has suggested its effectiveness in helping people recover from depression and has been shown fewer side effects compared to other antidepressants. However, it is only available on prescription, in the form of tablets or liquid drops for faster intake.

Citalopram and hair loss (A brief guide)

It usually takes between 4 to 6 weeks for Citalopram to start working and as with any other drug, it poses the risk of experiencing side effects. Some of the common side effects include but are not limited to tiredness, dry mouth, and sweating excessively.

How and when to take it?

You need to take it once a day (at any time of the day but it is recommended to take it in the morning if you have trouble sleeping) and it won’t make a difference if you take it with or without having food.

What are the Common Side effects of Citalopram?

Some of the most common side effects can include feeling nauseous, dry mouth, loss of appetite, fatigue, drowsiness, sweating excessively, blurred vision and constant yawning. 

How much do I have to take?

Citalopram tablets come in different doses ranging from 10mg to 40mg and the usual recommended dose for adults is 20mg a day (max dose of 40mg a day). In children, the usual dose is 10mg a day, but it may get increased to 40mg a day as it is the case for adults. 

If you take too much by accident or get to experience symptoms such as the following, contact your doctor straight away:

  • Being sick (vomiting)
  • Shaking
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Fast heart rate
  • Seizures

Be aware that your body needs to gradually get used to the medicine, as soon as this happens, some of the side effects might disappear. However, if they are persistent in time or get worse, you need to seek medical assistance. 

Some of the serious effects are listed as follows:

  • Chest pain or pressure or shortness of breath
  • Severe dizziness or passing out (fainting)
  • Black stools
  • Painful erections that last longer than 4 hours – this may happen even when you’re not having sex
  • Vomit that looks like coffee beans
  • Having seizures
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Any bleeding that’s very bad or you can’t stop, such as cuts or nosebleeds that won’t stop within 10 minutes
Citalopram and hair loss (A brief guide)

Serotonin syndrome: symptoms

Since this medication increases the serotonin levels in some cases (very rare) it can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome. Some of the symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Having a very fast heart rate
  • Having hallucinations
  • Losing your coordination easily
  • Severe dizziness
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Twitches in your muscles
  • High fever
  • Feeling agitated or restless

What are the symptoms related to Citalopram Overdose?

These are some of the symptoms that have been reported in cases of citalopram overdose:

  • Convulsion or seizures
  • Tachycardia or an accelerated heart rate
  • Somnolence (feeling sleepy)
  • QT prolongation 
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Hypotension
  •   Cardiac arrest
  • Nausea
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Agitation or restlessness 
  • Bradycardia or having a very low heart rate
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Hypertension
  • Sweating excessively
  • Hyperventilation 

Can I die from a Citalopram Overdose?

There are conflicting facts about dying from citalopram overdose. Most of the studies suggest that you are not actually able to die from a citalopram overdose but from the interaction of citalopram with other substances like alcohol or other drugs.

Antidepressants: Suicidal Risk

Some studies have shown that taking antidepressants is associated with a higher risk of suicidal behavior (suicidal thinking or attempts) when compared to placebo drugs. This risk has been associated with age in the case in children, adolescents, and adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) or related psychiatric disorders. 

One study conducted by the Centre for Suicide Research in Oxford, England attempted to identify which antidepressant drugs were more closely related to suicides or suicide attempts using coroners reports and hospital admissions from six hospitals across the United Kingdom and Wales (between 2000 and 2006). 

They found that Tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs had the highest toxicity and rate of fatality compared to other classes of antidepressants. Additionally from the SSRIs group, Citalopram indicated to be the one with the highest toxicity and fatality rates. 

Besides being a treatment often used for depression, it can also be prescribed for the treatment of other major psychiatric disorders such as Obsessive-compulsive disorder (ODD), Panic disorder, premenstrual dysphoric syndrome (PMDD), anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders. 

People under antidepressant medication should always be monitored and observed closely to help reduce or prevent suicidal behavior.  

Why is this blog about citalopram and hair loss important?

In many cases, we think drugs are the only solution to our problems. Some might come as physical pain and some as emotional or psychological. Either way, precautions, and recommendations need to be taken into consideration when starting to take a new drug.

Studies have shown conflicting results about citalopram and hair loss, so we can’t really say citalopram is directly implicated in hair loss. Tell your doctor your concerns and have him/her run some additional tests to rule out any additional medical problem underlying the hair loss.

Always follow you, doctors, instructions, if he or she prescribed is because it was the best option for you and your health. 

Please feel free to comment in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Citalopram and hair loss

What antidepressants make your hair fall out?

Some of the antidepressants that can potentially make your hair fall out are paroxetine hydrochloride (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft)

What are the most common side effects of citalopram?

The most common side effects of citalopram include:

  • problems with memory or concentration;
  • headache, drowsiness;
  • dry mouth increased sweating;
  • numbness or tingling;
  • increased appetite, nausea, diarrhea, gas;
  • fast heartbeats, feeling shaky;
  • sleep problems (insomnia), feeling tired.

Can Accutane make you lose hair?

Accutane can potentially make you lose hair. The active component isotretinoin that is prescribed to treat severe types of acne can make your hair thinner as a side effect. This hair loss is believed to be temporary and your hair is likely to gro back once you stop the medication. 

Can citalopram affect your memory?

Studies have shown that antidepressants can reduce learning and memory capacity as a side effect. 

Is it OK to take citalopram long term?

Citalopram is safe to take for long-term since it doesn’t seem to cause any harmful effects even after taking it for years. 

Recommended reading

  1. A Parent’s Guide to Depression and Anxiety (Axis Parent’s Guide)
  2. Citalopram Hydrobromide; A Clear and Concise Reference
  3. Citalopram 598 Questions to Ask that Matter to You
  4. The Pill That Steals Lives – One Woman’s Terrifying Journey to Discover the Truth About Antidepressants
  5. Dr. Shipko’s Informed Consent for SSRI Antidepressants

References

VeryWellMind

Rxlist: Celexa

Everyday Health: What is Citalopram (Celexa)?

Medicines.org.uk

NHS: Citalopram

Very Well Mind: How to tell if someone Has overdosed on antidepressants

Citalopram and hair loss

Citalopram and hair loss (A brief guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.