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Celexa might trigger insomnia in some patients

Consumer Reports News: April 29, 2011 02:48 PM

Many people with depression also suffer from sleep problems. But in some patients the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram and generic) doesn’t help relieve insomnia and might actually cause it, according to an April study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. The finding supports our previous survey, which found similar results for citalopram and other related antidepressants.

Researchers looked at 428 people whose depression was partially but not completely relieved by citalopram. Among those, 94 percent reported mild insomnia and 75 percent severe insomnia. And in about half of those patients, the insomnia was new—in other words, it started during use of the drug.

That supports our 2009 survey on antidepressants, which found that insomnia was one of the most common side effects of citalopram and other related selective serotonin receptor blockers (SSRIs), such as escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac and generic), sertaline (Zoloft and generic), as well as the unrelated antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin and generic).

As a new parent, I know all too well the problems of too little sleep. And as a practicing psychologist, I know that treating depression isn’t easy. It’s a complex illness with many symptoms that don’t necessarily respond to the same treatment. So while drugs can be part of the solution for many people, they might not be the best for some. And they often need to be combined with other options, such as talk therapy. Indeed, our report on depression found that combination therapy worked best for most people with depression.

See our tips for treating depression, and our Best Buy Drugs recommendations for antidepressants.

Residual Symptoms in Depressed Outpatients Who Respond by 50% But Do Not Remit to Antidepressant Medication [Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology]

Andrew Schwartz, Ph.D., is a Consumer Reports survey research associate and licensed clinical psychologist.

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