Citalopram and sertraline are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used for the treatment of depression. The drugs prevent the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin by other nerves within the brain. Doctors believe this action allows the serotonin to improve the mood of depressed patients for longer and thereby combat depression. They are also both prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both drugs can cause side effects such as drowsiness, nausea, dry mouth, and dizziness.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals released by the nerves in the brain. These travel from one nerve to another as a means for the brain to communicate, making them chemical messengers. They affect nearby nerve cells on their journey and then are removed from the brain by the destination nerve. Several different neurotransmitters are found within the brain, and they all serve different functions. Doctors believe that serotonin is directly related to mood, and drugs such as citalopram and sertraline focus on this neurotransmitter.
The action of citalopram and sertraline is the same, so they are in the same class of medicines. An imbalance of neurotransmitters within the brain is believed to be the cause of depression. SSRIs prevent nerves within the brain from taking up serotonin that is released. This means that the serotonin is free to roam around the brain for longer and consequently improve mood. The precise cause of depression is not known, however, so the effect of this mechanism is largely theoretical.
SSRIs like citalopram and sertraline are used to treat the same conditions. The drugs are most frequently prescribed for depression, which is a consistent feeling of sadness that lasts for weeks or months. Both citalopram and sertraline can be used to treat OCD as well, which is the compulsion to repeat the same actions over and over again. SSRIs also treat other conditions such as PTSD, which is an anxiety disorder caused by particularly traumatic events. These conditions don’t necessarily require medication, but SSRIs are usually used in cases where medication is needed.
Side effects caused by citalopram and sertraline are generally similar. The most common side effects associated with both treatments include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea. Doctors encourage patients to manage these symptoms where possible through diet and rest. The drugs also cause dry mouth and excess sweating in some patients. These are common side effects, and are not usually cause to stop taking the medication.