How Long Does It Take for Celexa (Citalopram) to Work?

Published on: 21 May 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC
How Long Does It Take for Celexa (Citalopram) to Work

Some people find that Celexa treatment is very successful to raise serotonin levels, but it’s important to remember that everyone’s body reacts differently to antidepressant drugs. So how long does it take for Celexa to work? The length of time it takes for a Celexa treatment to work is influenced by a variety of variables. 

Before taking any new drug, you should know as much as possible about it, including how long it can take to work as well as possible side effects. The speed of Celexa’s efficacy can differ from person to person based on individual conditions and severity of symptoms. While some people experience relief in as little as one week, research shows others may not experience the full benefits of Celexa until 6 weeks or longer.

Wondering how long does Celexa take to work? Read on to learn everything you need to know about taking Celexa — from when you might notice benefits to what you should be aware of after you start taking it, we’re covering it all.  

How Long Does It Take Celexa to Work for Anxiety?

When it comes to treating anxiety disorders, Celexa is a commonly prescribed medication. How soon can you expect to see results? The benefits of Celexa are frequently felt within one to two weeks, but it may take up to four weeks — or more — to feel the full effects for anxiety treatment. 

It’s important to recognize that reactions can differ, and various factors can influence the time it takes for Celexa to be efficacious for anxiety disorder. Age, gender, weight, health status, and other medications can affect how well Celexa works and how long it takes to see any change. Older adults may require higher doses of Celexa than younger people might due to changes in metabolism with age.

How Do You Feel When You Start Taking Celexa?

Most people start feeling some relief from symptoms within a few weeks. However, it’s also possible to experience some — usually temporary — Celexa side effects. Some people feel common side effects such as nausea or an upset stomach. Other potential side effects may include decreased sex drive, delayed ejaculation, or trouble inducing orgasm.

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Receive an evaluation and prescription for mental health medication (if needed) from a psychiatry-trained medical provider.

People frequently experience an uptick in vitality not long after beginning a course of Celexa. This increased motivation can help them accomplish more throughout the day and become more productive overall. In addition to a boost in energy, many people report common side effects such as a decrease in panic attacks and fewer crying spells than before they started Celexa.

“Signs of Celexa working can be fewer panic attacks, improved motivation, more energy, and fewer crying spells. Immediate effects can include nausea or stomach upset. If these last longer than the first week of taking the medication, let your doctor know. You may need a lower dose. Celexa can have sexual side effects which can include low sex drive, delayed ejaculation, and an inability to have an orgasm.”

Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger

Does Celexa make you feel worse at first?

When beginning Celexa, some people feel their symptoms get worse before better. It’s important to understand that this can be a common side effect of starting any new medication. It doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with the drug or your body. Many people experience an initial worsening of symptoms as their bodies adjust to the medication.

Be patient, as it may take some time for Celexa to work and improve your mental health symptoms. Don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results. Consult your doctor about your Celexa side effects to find out if they’re “normal” and might go away over time.

Do not suddenly stop taking Celexa — doing so can cause severe withdrawal syndrome and an increased risk of experiencing Celexa withdrawal symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. 

Factors that Affect the Onset of Action for Celexa

A few key factors can affect how quickly Celexa begins to work. The dosage taken is critical for the drug’s effect — too little may not be sufficient to treat symptoms. It’s also important to take the medication consistently and at the same time each day for it to be as effective as possible. Other things, like alcohol use or receiving an incorrect diagnosis, can negatively impact how well Celexa works.

“Factors that can negatively affect how Celexa works include alcohol use, low dosing, or being given the wrong diagnosis (for example, Celexa would be ineffective in treating bipolar disorder).”

Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger

What to Do When Celexa is Not Working

It can be frustrating when it feels like Celexa isn’t working. However, there are some things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most from your medication. If you’ve been taking it for longer than 6 weeks and it’s still not working, it’s time to start exploring next steps.

  • Talk to your doctor: Ask a medical professional about adjusting the dosage. If dosage adjustment doesn’t help, they may suggest trying a different SSRI antidepressant or another type of drug altogether. 
  • Look at your lifestyle: It’s important to consider lifestyle factors when determining why Celexa isn’t working for you. Are you getting enough sleep? Is your diet balanced and healthy? Do you have enough time for leisure activities? Considering the impact of diet, leisure activities, and other factors is essential when determining the efficacy of any medication.

Get Personalized Mental Health Treatment with Talkspace

Talkspace is an online psychiatry and therapy platform that provides personalized mental health treatment, including Celexa online. With Talkspace, you can get the support and guidance of experienced, qualified mental health professionals without having to leave your home or office. 

If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, relationship issues, or any other mental health issue, Talkspace has a plan for you. Whether you want to know how long it takes for Celexa to work or need help with something else, reach out to Talkspace today to get started. 


  1. Muskin PR. What are anxiety disorders? – What are Anxiety Disorders? Published July 2021. Accessed March 3, 2023. 
  2. Chu A, Wadhwa R. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors . Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Published May 2, 2022. Accessed March 3, 2023. 
  3. Bandelow B, Michaelis S, Wedekind D. Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2017;19(2):93-107. doi:10.31887/dcns.2017.19.2/bbandelow. Accessed March 3, 2023. 
  4. Warner CH, Bobo W, Warner C, Reid S, Rachal J. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(3):449-456. Accessed March 3, 2023.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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