The Effects of Citalopram in Single and Repeated Doses and With Alcohol on Physiological and Psychological Measures in Healthy Subjects

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1986;31(2):183-90. doi: 10.1007/BF00606656.


Citalopram, a selective 5-HT uptake inhibitor with antidepressant properties, was assessed in three studies in 12 healthy subjects using a battery of EEG, psychological, subjective and symptomatic measures. Study A involved the administration of citalopram, 20 mg and 40 mg, amitriptyline 50 mg and placebo in single dose using a balanced cross-over design. The test battery was applied before, and 1 and 3 h after each drug. Citalopram decreased slow-wave EEG activity whereas amitriptyline increased power in most EEG wavebands. Citalopram increased tapping rate and symbol copying whereas amitriptyline impaired these and other psychomotor tasks. Subjectively, amitriptyline was much more sedative than citalopram and produced more complaints of dry mouth. Study B comprised the administration of citalopram in the usual clinical dose of 40 mg, amitriptyline in the low clinical dose of 75 mg and placebo, each given for 9 nights using a balanced cross-over design. The test battery was applied on the first morning (pre-drug) and on the morning after the last nightly dose. None of the physiological tests showed any drug effects. Subjectively, citalopram was associated with feelings of shaking, nausea, loss of appetite and physical tiredness; amitriptyline produced feelings of shaking, nausea, loss of appetite, dryness of mouth, irritability, dizziness and indigestion; in general, amitriptyline effects were more marked than those of citalopram. Plasma samples were taken on the last day and plasma concentrations of both drugs and their metabolites were found to be in the expected range for the regimens used.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amitriptyline / blood
  • Amitriptyline / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents* / blood
  • Citalopram
  • Drug Interactions
  • Electroencephalography
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Propylamines / blood
  • Propylamines / pharmacology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Random Allocation


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Propylamines
  • Citalopram
  • Amitriptyline
  • Ethanol