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Lexapro vs. Celexa

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Anxiety and depression are multifaceted conditions that affect every person differently, which makes choosing an effective medication a struggle. This is especially true when they’re as similar as Lexapro and Celexa. 

These medications have been used to treat mental health conditions for years, and although they may be familiar to some, it is essential to have a full understanding of both Lexapro and Celexa before taking either. We’ve provided the following comparison guide so you can make an informed decision about your health.

Klarity offers convenient, affordable anxiety and depression treatment from the comfort of your home. The experienced healthcare providers on our platform can help you decide which of these medications is best for regulating your anxiety or depression. 

This article discusses suicide, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or is in crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-8255.

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is most commonly used as an antidepressant. Like other SSRIs, Lexapro works by altering how the brain uses the neurotransmitter serotonin, slowing down its reabsorption into the neurons so that it can pass more messages between nerve cells. 

These messages are what contribute to a person’s good mood and feelings of contentedness, and without a consistent level of serotonin in the brain, they are lost, resulting in many symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Lexapro Forms and Doses

Lexapro is available in the form of an oral tablet or oral solution, but it is most commonly prescribed in its tablet form. These tablets come in 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg dosages, with the higher doses usually prescribed to those with severe symptoms or minimal reaction to the lower doses. The typical daily dosing for Lexapro is 10mg by mouth daily.

When you speak with your Klarity medical provider, they’ll help determine which form and dosage are best for treating your specific symptoms.

Conditions Lexapro Treats

Lexapro is primarily marketed as an antidepressant, but because multiple mental health conditions can be treated through SSRI medication, Lexapro’s usage can extend beyond treating depression symptoms. Anxiety is the other condition that Lexapro has been known to be effective at treating. Considering anxiety and depression are often comorbid conditions, it makes Lexapro a favorable choice for individuals who suffer from both. 

And like many medications, there can also be some off-label uses for Lexapro, but the treatment of any off-label conditions should only be done under the thorough discretion and observation of your healthcare provider.

Symptoms of Anxiety Lexapro Can Treat

The primary symptom of anxiety that Lexapro can treat is feelings of persistent nervousness. By stabilizing serotonin levels in the brain, the neurotransmitter is able to make greater contributions to an individual’s feelings of safety and contentment. This can have a cascading effect on individuals who suffer from anxiety, as reduced feelings of nervousness can contribute to fewer panic attacks, more stable thought patterns, and a generally relaxed demeanor compared to before taking Lexapro.

Symptoms of Depression Lexapro Can Treat

Lexapro is effective at treating a range of depression symptoms, generally contributing to a greater feeling of well-being and improved energy levels. Lexapro can also decrease the chances of your depression symptoms coming back, providing a comprehensive treatment option for individuals who experience symptom relief from the medication. Like most antidepressants, however, it’s important not to stop taking Lexapro unless specifically directed by your healthcare provider.

Off-Label Uses for Lexapro

Like many other SSRIs, Lexapro has a handful of off-label uses that make it effective at treating conditions other than anxiety and depression. These conditions include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). These disorders are often caused by some kind of serotonin deficiency, making Lexapro an acceptable form of treatment under the close supervision of your healthcare provider.

Lexapro Costs

The cost of Lexapro varies based on whether or not you are prescribed the name brand or its generic form, escitalopram. For 30 tablets of the 10mg dose, generic escitalopram can cost as little as $13 and reach prices as high as $129. 

The name brand Lexapro is much more expensive, with the same amount and dosage of Lexapro costing as much as $534. For both the generic and name brand, your prescription can be less costly if you’re able to receive insurance coverage.

Lexapro Side Effects

Like any other medication, Lexapro has a handful of side effects that you should be aware of before taking it. Some of these side effects may lessen in severity as your body acclimates to the medication, but if they persist or worsen over time, let your healthcare provider know immediately.

Some of the most common side effects of taking Lexapro include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea

Lexapro Warnings for Use

There is a chance that Lexapro can cause some serious health issues. Some of these can be avoided with close supervision from a medical professional, while others are more random and unpredictable. The healthcare providers can speak with you about these risks to determine if Lexapro is ultimately right for you.

The most prominent warnings for use include:

  • Serotonin syndrome: This is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition where the brain has too much active serotonin. This often occurs when one antidepressant is taken alongside another and can result in side effects such as fast heart rate, sweating, muscle stiffness or spasms, confusion, and fever. Tell your healthcare provider or seek immediate medical help if you experience any of these symptoms.
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior: In individuals 24 years old or younger, there can be new or worsening depression, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors, especially during the first few months of treatment. If you have any suicidal thoughts or compulsions when taking Lexapro, seek help immediately by calling the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and notify your healthcare provider.
  • Withdrawal: SSRIs, in general, are meant to have a low risk of dependency, but it is still possible to experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Lexapro. These symptoms can include nausea, anxiety, agitation, trouble sleeping, and flu-like symptoms and can start within three days of stopping the medication. If you wish to stop taking Lexapro, speak with your medical professional to help you end your usage safely.

Lexapro Drug Interactions

Lexapro may interact with other medications and supplements you take, potentially causing health issues or making Lexapro and your other medications less effective. Your Klarity healthcare provider may choose not to prescribe you Lexapro because of its possible drug interactions or suggest alternative forms of medicine.

Below are some of the medications that can have adverse reactions to Lexapro. This is not a comprehensive list, and you should divulge all medications you take with your healthcare provider before taking Lexapro.

  • Bepridil
  • Cisapride
  • Fluconazole
  • Methylene Blue
  • Pimozide
  • Rasagiline
  • Selegiline
  • Thioridazine
  • Ziprasidone

What is Celexa?

Celexa is an SSRI medication that is used to treat symptoms of depression. It accomplishes this by altering how the brain uses serotonin, increasing the amount of the chemical in the brain and slowing its reabsorption into the neurons. Serotonin is essential to mood regulation and other aspects of individual mental health, so altering how the brain uses the chemical can help ease depression symptoms and allow individuals to live with a greater sense of well-being.

Celexa Forms and Doses

Celexa can be prescribed as either an oral solution, capsule, or tablet. The dosage for the oral solution is 10mg/5ml, while the tablet comes in doses of 10mg, 20mg, and 40mg. If you’re prescribed the capsule, it is only available in a 30mg dose.

The usual starting dose for Celexa is 20mg by mouth once daily, and the maximum recommended dose is 40mg by mouth once daily. When you speak with your Klarity medical provider, they’ll help determine which form and dosage will be best for addressing your specific needs.

Conditions Celexa Treats

Celexa is primarily known for its ability to treat depression, but because many conditions can be treated with SSRI medication, Celexa’s utility isn’t restricted to alleviating depression symptoms. Anxiety is a commonly comorbid condition with depression, making Celexa a possible form of treatment for the condition as well. 

There are also some off-label uses for Celexa, but any treatment for off-label conditions should only be done under the close supervision of your medical provider.

Symptoms of Anxiety Celexa Can Treat

Celexa can be used to treat the hallmark symptoms of anxiety, including constant feelings of nervousness and fear that interfere with daily activities. As Celexa regulates how the brain uses serotonin, these symptoms can dissipate and slowly become virtually nonexistent. With regular use, individuals may experience a greater sense of calm and emotional stability than they did before taking Celexa.

Symptoms of Depression Celexa Can Treat

Celexa is an effective way to treat a wide range of depression symptoms, allowing individuals to live with a greater sense of peace and well-being. Celexa can also help improve energy levels, giving people a chance to take on the day with a renewed mental perspective and physical vigor. There’s a chance that Celexa may also lower the likelihood of depression symptoms returning, but this can only be achieved with regular use as instructed by your healthcare provider.

Off-Label Uses for Celexa

Celexa has a few off-label uses that make it helpful in treating conditions aside from depression and anxiety. The increase in serotonin awarded by this SSRI can also treat alcohol use disorder, panic disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postmenopausal flushing, and depression in people with coronary arteriosclerosis. Like any other medication, be sure to only take Celexa for off-label indications with the express approval of your medical provider.

Celexa Costs

As is the case with most medications, the cost of a Celexa prescription will vary depending on if you’ve been prescribed the generic or name brand form. Celexa’s generic form, citalopram, can cost as little as $7 for 30 tablets of the 20mg dosage, giving individuals a rather inexpensive option for treating their depression and anxiety symptoms. The name-brand is a significantly more expensive option, costing as much as $400 for the same amount and dosage.

Whether you get the name brand or generic form, Celexa can also be somewhat less expensive if your prescription can be covered by insurance. 

Celexa Side Effects

Celexa has a few side effects, just like most other antidepressants, but many of them have a low chance of occurring. These side effects should also lessen in severity as your body gets used to the medication. If you notice that these side effects aren’t going away or that they are worsening, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Some of the common side effects of taking Celexa include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating
  • Tremor
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Celexa Warnings for Use

Celexa has a few warnings for use, as individuals may experience serious health issues due to numerous factors. To avoid these issues, only take Celexa as instructed by your healthcare provider, and notify them immediately if any drastic changes to your health occur. The experienced and attentive medical providers on Klarity will discuss any potential complications to determine if Celexa is right for you.

The most common warnings for use when taking Celexa include:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors: In individuals age 24 or younger, there is a chance that Celexa may raise the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior. This is most common in the first few months of treatment or when the dose changes, so it’s important to exercise increased attentiveness to your own mental health during these times. If you have any suicidal thoughts or compulsions when taking Celexa, seek help immediately by calling the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and notify your healthcare provider.
  • Serotonin syndrome: Serotonin syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition where the brain has too much serotonin. This occurs when an individual is taking two or more serotonin-affecting medications at once, such as a combination of antidepressants, lithium, triptan, or St. John’s wort. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include sweating, muscle stiffness or spasms, fever, fast heart rate, and confusion.
  • Withdrawal: Celexa is a rather safe drug compared to other antidepressants, but there is still a risk of withdrawal symptoms if an individual stops taking it suddenly. Never stop taking Celexa on your own and without the supervision of your Klarity healthcare provider.

Celexa Drug Interactions

Celexa may interact with certain medications or supplements, causing an adverse reaction such as Celexa or other medications becoming less effective. When you speak with a healthcare provider on Klarity about taking Celexa, it’s essential to let them know all medications or supplements you’re currently taking.

Below are some of the medications that are not recommended for use when taking Celexa. This is not a comprehensive list, and only the generic names are listed.

  • Bepridil
  • Cisapride
  • Ketoconazole
  • Metoclopramide
  • Phenelzine
  • Sparfloxacin
  • Toloxatone
  • Ziprasidone

Which Is Better for Anxiety and Depression? Celexa or Lexapro?

When looking for the right antidepressant for your needs, it’s important to understand how one medication matches up to another. Between Celexa and Lexapro, both medications share similarities in their benefits and drawbacks. If your healthcare provider suggests one over the other, it’s likely because that medication will prevent fewer complications with your specific mental health concerns and physical sensitivities.

The most important thing when taking an antidepressant is finding the one that works best for you and not necessarily what the majority of people say works best for them.  

The experienced medical professionals on Klarity will help you find the medication that will bring a greater sense of peace to your life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Celexa and Lexapro

Does Lexapro Have More Side Effects Than Celexa?

Lexapro and Celexa both have a similar amount of side effects, but there is some variation in specifically which side effects each medication has. For example, there is a greater risk of tremors when taking Celexa compared to Lexapro, whereas Lexapro is more likely to cause dizziness. 

What Causes More Weight Gain Celexa or Lexapro?

Weight gain is common when taking certain antidepressants, including Lexapro and Celexa. While this weight gain can be minimal with either medication, in some cases, Celexa can cause more weight gain than Lexapro. 

Which Has Worse Sexual Side Effects? Lexapro or Celexa?

Sexual dysfunction is common when taking both Lexapro and Celexa, as each medication can cause decreased sex drive, problems ejaculating, and erectile dysfunction. In some cases, it is believed that Celexa can cause worse sexual side effects, although the severity of this disparity has not been studied thoroughly enough to convey a stark difference. 

Which Is Better For Sleep? Lexapro or Celexa?

When taking antidepressants such as Lexapro and Celexa, sleeping problems such as insomnia may occur. If you are trying to avoid these issues, Celexa can be a more favorable option, as Lexapro may cause more sleep problems. With that said, Celexa still may cause sleep issues, so it’s a matter of gauging which one is less disruptive for you personally.

Can I Drive On Lexapro? On Celexa?

When taking Lexapro or Celexa, it’s important to first understand how it affects your senses before operating a motor vehicle. If either medication makes you drowsy to the point where it affects your ability to pay attention or stay awake, then it is advised that you avoid driving. If you find that you don’t feel as drowsy after taking Lexapro or Celexa, however, then it should be safe for you to drive.

Can I Drink Alcohol On Celexa? On Lexapro?

It is not recommended that you drink alcohol while taking either Lexapro or Celexa. Alcohol is a depressant substance, which can not only make your alertness and coordination worse but increase the severity of depression symptoms. If you regularly drink alcohol, let your healthcare provider know so they can try to find an alternative medication.

What Is Better For Anxiety? Celexa or Lexapro?

Although both medications have been found to be effective at treating anxiety symptoms, Lexapro has been shown to be more effective overall. If you find that Lexapro doesn’t properly treat your anxiety symptoms, however, you will likely need to change medications.

What Is Better For Depression? Celexa or Lexapro?

Similar to their effectiveness at treating anxiety, Lexapro has been shown to be more effective at treating depression than Celexa. Celexa is still an effective option, however, and if your healthcare provider decides it’s best for you, then it should be taken.

How Klarity Helps You Discover the Right Medication

At Klarity, we can get you an appointment with a licensed healthcare provider in your state within 48 hours or less. They’ll evaluate your symptoms, needs, and goals and recommend medication, if applicable. 

You can pick up your first prescription at a local pharmacy right after your appointment. If the medication works well for you and without severe side effects, it might be an option for you to receive a direct prescription from your provider on Klarity.

Sources

“Celexa.” GoodRx. https://www.goodrx.com/celexa

“Lexapro.” GoodRx. https://www.goodrx.com/lexapro

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