Citalopram and aripiprazole: A review

In this guide, we will discuss Citalopram and Aripiprazole: A review. 

Citalopram and aripiprazole: A review of its Use

The following information is NOT intended to endorse drugs or recommend therapy.

While these reviews might be helpful, they are not a substitute for the expertise, skill, knowledge, and judgment of healthcare practitioners in patient care.

Venlafaxine, sold under the brand name Effexor among others, is an antidepressant medication of the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor class.

It is used to treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia. 

Antidepressants are drugs used to treat depression or illnesses such as anxiety, phobias or bulimia ( eating disorders).

Antidepressants work by boosting or prolonging the activity of particular brain chemicals, such as noradrenaline and serotonin, which are thought to be involved with regulating mood.

By causing a change to your brain chemistry, antidepressants may lift your mood.

However, antidepressants don’t work for everyone, and there is no scientific evidence that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance that is corrected by antidepressants.

Some antidepressants can have a negative impact on the mind. 

Everyone can react differently to antidepressants, therefore it is important to talk to your doctor and gain professional advice, that suits your individual circumstance.

Citalopram (Celexa)

Celexa is the brand name for the active component Citalopram.

It is a type of antidepressant (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor or SSRI), 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.

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.

According to drugs.com, Celexa for anxiety and stress has a rating of 7.5/10 with 746 ratings with 788 user reviews.

Where, 30% (219) gave a perfect 10/10 rating, 22% (161) a 9/10, 16% (117) a 8/10, 8% (56) a 7/10, 4% (25) a 6/10, 6% (43) a 5/10, 3% (20) a 4/10, 3% (19) 3/10, 2% (14) a 2/10 and 10% (72) a 1/10.

This tells us that most people have rated citalopram positively with improvements to their symptoms. 

Scientific research

A study from 1991, suggested that its short term therapeutic efficacy, during preliminary trials, is significantly greater than that of placebo and mianserin, and comparable to amitriptyline, maprotiline, and imipramine. 

According to Milne and Goa (1991),  “It appears to be a weaker antidepressant agent than clomipramine but better tolerated. Its elimination half-life of 33 hours permits once-daily oral administration.”

The improvement of the symptoms was maintained even after the treatment was extended for up to 1 year and the relapse rate was lower compared to fluvoxamine, fluoxetine or imipramine.

Also, compared to other antidepressants, Citalopram showed to be well tolerated with minimal anticholinergic effects. 

A first study from 2000 evidenced and supported the role of Citalopram as a well-tolerated and effective SSRI antidepressant.

However, it has been suggested to keep further investigating the evaluation of its role in other psychiatric disorders different from major depressive disorder. 

In addition, a second study from 2000 reviewed data from several studies and their data suggest that Citalopram is superior to placebo treatment of depression, has the efficacy similar to a tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants and other SSRIs, and finally, it is safe and well-tolerated in the therapeutic dose range from 20 to 60 mg/day. 

Aripiprazole (Abilify)

Abilify is the brand name for the active component Aripiprazole.

This is a medication used for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults and children aged 13 or older.

Aripiprazole comes in the form of tablets, solution and disintegrating tablets form.

It is also used sometimes to treat depression, bipolar disorder, autistic and Tourette’s syndrome.

Additionally, this medication is classed as an atypical antipsychotic or a second-generation psychotics.

“Abilify should not be given to a child younger than 13 years old for the treatment of schizophrenia. Talk to your child’s doctor about the risks of using the medication. Adolescents are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts when taking the medication (Psycom.net).”

According to the website drugs.com, Abilify for depression has a rating of 6.5/10, with 246 ratings with 259 User reviews.

Where, 30% (72) gave a perfect 10/10 rating, 18% (44) a 9/10, 9% (22) a 8/10, 5% (12) a 7/10, 5% (10) a 6/10, 4% (9) a 5/10, 3% (6) a 4/10, 5% (12) a 3/10, 5% (11) a 2/10 and finally, a significant 20% (48) a 1/10.

Overall, Aripiprazole seems to have a positive score indicating a perceived improvement in the symptoms. 

Scientific research

A study from 2011 reviewed the use of Aripiprazole in the treatment of irritability associated with Autistic Disorder Patients Aged 6-17.

Researchers found that Aripiprazole was more effective in reducing irritability compared with placebo at 8 weeks.

Additionally, statistically significant weight gain was also associated with aripiprazole but there was a decrease in serum prolactin.

The most adverse effects were deemed to be mild to moderate in severity.

Another study from 2008 researchers indicates that “Preclinical data suggest that aripiprazole has a number of possible mechanisms of action that may be important in the treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders. Such mechanisms include aripiprazole action at serotonin (5-HT) receptors as a 5-HT1A partial receptor agonist, a 5-HT2C partial receptor agonist, and a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist. Aripiprazole also acts as a dopamine D2 partial receptor agonist and has a possible action at adrenergic receptors. Furthermore, aripiprazole may have possible neuroprotective effects.”

In addition, a study from 2015 evidence how in adults aged 60 years or older who do not achieve remission from depression when using a treatment with a first-line antidepressant, and in adding aripiprazole to the mix is suggested to be effective in achieving and sustaining remission.

However, concerns arise from the risk of akathisia and parkinsonism. 

As we have discussed, Aripiprazole is prescribed for Schizophrenia, but it has also shown to be effective for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder.

Stip and Tourjman, (2010) based on the evidence reviewed, suggest that aripiprazole monotherapy appears to be effective and well-tolerated in treating the positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. 

Additionally, Aripiprazole was associated with a low risk for the common adverse effects of antipsychotic therapy, including metabolic and endocrine alterations.

Drug interaction

It is important to consider and to be aware that certain medications can interact with Aripiprazole, some examples are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antifungals 
  • Antihistamines
  • HIV protease inhibitors
  • Medications for anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Motion sickness
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Seizure ulcers
  • Urinary problems
  • Sedatives
  • Sleeping pills
  • Tranquilizers 

Always consult with your doctor and let them know the list of medicines you are currently taking before starting the treatment with Aripiprazole.

Also, let them be aware of other medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, low white blood cell count, tardive dyskinesia, dementia, seizures, neuroleptic malignant syndrome or a history of suicidal thoughts/behavior. 

Why is this blog about “Citalopram and Aripiprazole: A review”, important?

As discussed, Citalopram is an SSRI prescribed for depression (off label can also be used to treat eating disorders, panic disorder, PMS and social phobia) and Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

In addition, it is used as an antidepressant when symptoms are resistant.

Like any other drug, it is necessary to stay informed and ask your doctor about any possible side effects. 

In addition, we talked about the reviews from several users and overall, both medications seem to have high acceptance and effectiveness.

However, we are not encouraging taking either of them, your doctor will assess your case and decide the best treatment option. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about “Citalopram and Aripiprazole: A review”

Can citalopram and Abilify be taken together?

They should not be taken together since there is a known drug interaction, where Citalopram may increase the blood levels of Aripiprazole.

Subsequently increasing the risk and/or severity of side effects such as drowsiness, seizures, Parkinson-like symptoms, abnormal muscle movements, and low blood pressure. 

How quickly does Abilify work?

Abilify can take a few days or even weeks for you to start noticing an improvement.

If you have been taking it for 2-3 weeks and there is no improvement, talk to your doctor.

However, it can take 4-6 weeks for Abilify to take full effect. 

Does Abilify reduce anxiety?

Abilify may possibly help reduce anxiety, however, it is not specifically approved to treat anxiety yet.

Research suggests it may have a lower adverse effect burden than the other atypical drugs but future research still needs to confirm the full potential benefits in the treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders. 

What symptoms does Abilify help with?

Abilify is used to treat disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia, Tourette’s Syndrome and irritability associated with autistic disorder.

In combination with other drugs, it can also be used to treat depression. 

What does Abilify do to the brain?

Abilify helps to rebalance neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin to improve thinking, mood, and behavior.

This medication is used to treat schizophrenia and it is also known as a second-generation antipsychotic. 

Recommended reading

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

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