How Effective Is Citalopram for Headaches?

Erik J.J. Goserud

The efficacy of citalopram for headaches is dependent upon the source. The term headache vaguely describes a common discomfort in the cranial region; however, there are literally thousands of possible causes. Though not primarily prescribed for headaches, it is possible that citalopram for headaches may be utilized by a medical provider if he or she feels the source of pain is related to depression.

Citalopram is an antidepressant that may help some patients experiencing headaches and mood swings.
Citalopram is an antidepressant that may help some patients experiencing headaches and mood swings.

Citalopram is an antidepressive drug commonly used in medicine to treat a number of conditions falling under the broad depressive spectrum. Antidepressants function in a number of ways to target potential causes of depression. There are pharmaceutical interventions, such as citalopram, which promote the presence of mood-altering chemicals in the brain, theoretically improving the mood of a person suffering from a depressive disorder. There are also many therapeutic techniques, such as counseling or meditation, that are sometimes helpful in treating depression.

Citalopram works by maintaining high brain levels of serotonin.
Citalopram works by maintaining high brain levels of serotonin.

The mechanism of an antidepressant is specific to each drug, meaning not all medications function alike. Citalopram belongs to a class of antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. What this means is that the drug causes an increase in serotonin levels — a neurotransmitter thought to be responsible for pleasure and mood regulation — in the brain. Neurons utilize chemicals known as neurotransmitters to communicate with each other through a microscopic connecting space known as a synapse. By preventing the reabsorption of serotonin in the neural synapses, SSRIs increase the available amount.

Headaches are loosely defined, and due to the subjectivity of pain, one person's migraine may be another person's minor ache. Clinically known as cephalgia, headaches can be brought about by serious trauma or more mental stimuli, such as anxiety or depression. In the case of the latter, one possible treatment is the prescription of citalopram for headaches. This may help ease the negative thought loops that are sometimes characteristic of depression, in turn relieving the mind of the physical pain possibly accompanying mental angst.

People experiencing chronic or severe headaches should seek immediate medical attention. A medical professional will utilize a number of techniques to identify the source of the headaches and may begin a treatment, such as citalopram for headaches, as soon as possible. Although a headache may be caused by a minor ailment or event, there are also a number of severe causes of headaches, such as a tumor or internal bleeding. For this reason, the common condition of pain in the head or neck should not be taken lightly, and only a professional will be able to definitively identify and treat any discomfort.

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Discussion Comments


I'm not using citalopram for headaches per se . I'm using it to help with the anxiety and low mood I've developed due to chronic and sometimes debilitating headaches.

I am so fed up with having an intense headache all the time, that I have no desire to do anything. I just want to sleep or lay around. It's making me depression and anxious. I am taking medications for my headaches but my doctor felt that I should also take something for the anxiety and mood issues. So he also prescribed citalopram. I think it's helping. I feel a little better. The medication works in that regard.


@stoneMason-- I agree with you. I used citalopram for some time and actually experienced headaches as a side effect. It's not a good option for treating headaches, even for those caused by depression.


I have been using citalopram for some time now for depression and anxiety. It's effective for depression and fairly effective for anxiety. I've not heard of it being used for headaches and I personally don't feel that it would be very beneficial for this purpose. I suppose if someone has both depression and headaches, citalopram could work. But I don't think someone with just headaches would benefit from it. Of course, a doctor is the best person to talk to about these things. They know which medication is best for which condition.

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