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How and when to take citalopram

Dosage and strength

Citalopram comes in 10mg, 20mg and 40mg tablets.

The usual dose of citalopram is 20mg a day for adults. But you might start at a lower dose and increase to a maximum dose of 40mg a day.

If you are taking citalopram to prevent panic attacks, your starting dose will usually be 10mg once a day. If you're over 65 years old, or have liver problems, the maximum recommended dose is 20mg a day.

The usual dose of citalopram for children is 10mg a day, but this may be increased to 40mg a day.

With liquid drops of citalopram, taking 4 drops is the same as a 10mg tablet.

How to take it

You’ll usually take citalopram once a day. You can take it at any time of day, but it’s best to stick to the same time every day.

You can take it with or without food.

If you have trouble sleeping, it's best to take it in the morning.

If you are taking citalopram liquid drops, mix them with water and drink it straight away.

It’s best not to take the drops without water.

How long to take it

Once you’re feeling better it’s likely that you’ll continue taking citalopram for several more months.

Most doctors recommend that you take antidepressants for 6 months to a year. Stopping before that time can make depression come back.

The decision to stop your treatment or carry on will depend on what symptoms you have and how serious they are. It will also depend on how well citalopram works for you, and whether you have had any bad side effects.

If you forget to take it for

If you occasionally forget to take a dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose the next day at the usual time. Never take 2 doses at the same time to make up for a forgotten one.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

If you take too much

The amount of citalopram that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.

Taking too much can cause symptoms such as:

  • being sick (vomiting)
  • shaking
  • feeling sleepy
  • fast heart rate
  • fits or seizures

Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice now if:

  • you take more than your prescribed dose of citalopram

Go to or call 111.

If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.

Take the citalopram packet, or the leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine with you.

Stopping citalopram

If you have been feeling better for 6 months or more, your doctor may suggest coming off citalopram. They will probably recommend reducing your dose gradually over several weeks, or longer if you have been taking citalopram for a long time.

This helps to stop any withdrawal symptoms you might get as a reaction to coming off the medicine.

These can include:

  • feeling dizzy
  • feeling sick
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • trouble sleeping
  • feeling agitated or anxious
  • headaches
  • shaking


Do not stop taking citalopram suddenly or without talking to your doctor first.

Page last reviewed: 9 February 2022
Next review due: 9 February 2025