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Zoloft vs. Celexa

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Celexa vs Zoloft

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With so many different depression treatments available, finding the best one for you can be overwhelming, to say the least. Living with symptoms of anxiety or depression is difficult. Choosing the right medication shouldn’t be.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first-line antidepressants used to treat anxiety and depression. Zoloft and Celexa are two commonly prescribed SSRIs, and both have been found to be highly effective in improving mood and reducing anxious thoughts. 

Since these two medications belong to the same drug class, they have a similar mechanism of action and side effect profile, but there are key differences between the two. In this article, we will discuss the major similarities and differences between Zoloft and Celexa so you can be more informed when pursuing anxiety or depression treatment. 

If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression, schedule an appointment on Klarity and be seen within 48 hours by a licensed healthcare provider in your area. If diagnosed, your provider will discuss the right treatment plan for you.

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 Zoloft?

Zoloft or Sertraline is an SSRI medication that acts by blocking the reuptake of a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin. It is one of the most commonly prescribed medications used to treat anxiety and depression. 

Forms and Doses of Zoloft 

Zoloft is available in capsules, tablets, and liquid forms. Tablets and capsules are most commonly prescribed. The initial starting dose is typically 50 mg a day, which can then be increased in 25 mg increments as needed. The typical maximum dose is 200 mg a day. 

Zoloft tablets are available in the following dosage forms:

  • 25 mg 
  • 50 mg 
  • 100 mg 

Zoloft is available in capsule form in the following doses: 

  • 150 mg 
  • 200 mg 

Zoloft oral solution is available at 20 mg/mL. 

Conditions Zoloft Treats

There are a number of different anxiety and depressive disorders that are commonly treated with Zoloft. 

Zoloft can be used to treat the following disorders: 

  • Major depressive disorder 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder 
  • Panic disorder & PTSD

Symptoms of Anxiety Zoloft Can Treat

Zoloft is commonly used to treat anxiety symptoms that affect everyday life, including: 

  • Calm racing or unwanted thoughts
  • Decrease fear that is out of proportion to the situation 
  • Reduce the number and severity of panic episodes
  • Reduce the urges associated with performing repetitive tasks in OCD

Symptoms of Depression Zoloft Can Treat

Zoloft can improve a number of depressive symptoms and overall increase quality of life, including: 

  • Improved mood and interest in pleasurable activities 
  • Sleep quality 
  • Increased energy levels 
  • Restore appetite 

Off-Label Uses For Zoloft

Some off-label uses for Zoloft include: 

  • Binge eating disorder 
  • Body dysmorphic disorder 
  • Bulimia nervosa 
  • Premature ejaculation 
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder 
  • Neuropathic pain 

Zoloft Costs

Zoloft is available in both generic and name-brand formulations. The average price of a 30-day prescription is around $10-11 when using a coupon code. Zoloft is covered by most insurance plans, and coupon codes are available at most large pharmacies.

Side Effects of Zoloft 

Any medication comes with its own risks and benefits. Of note, all SSRIs, including Zoloft, should be avoided or used with caution in elderly patients. This is due to the potential for an increased side effect profile, including electrolyte imbalances. 

Common side effects associated with Zoloft include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, GI upset  
  • Drowsiness or dizziness 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Increased sweating 
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Decreased libido, sexual dysfunction
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Tremor 

Zoloft Warnings For Use

It is important to note that there have been reported incidences of worsening depression and increased suicidal ideation. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm behaviors, contact your healthcare provider immediately or go to the nearest emergency department. 

The national suicide hotline can be reached by dialing 988 and is available 24/7.

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but serious drug reaction that occurs when there are excess serotonin levels built up within the brain. You should call your healthcare provider or seek immediate medical attention if you begin to experience any of the following side effects: 

  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure 
  • High fever 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Loss of muscle coordination or uncontrollable muscle twitching 
  • Muscle rigidity 
  • Increased sweating, shivering, or goosebumps
  • Diarrhea 
  • Headache 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Confusion or altered consciousness

With any SSRI, there is a potential for withdrawal syndrome when abruptly stopping the medication or decreasing the dose. It is important to discuss with your healthcare provider when you are thinking about discontinuing an SSRI medication, including Zoloft. Your healthcare provider will work with you to slowly decrease the dose so that you are less likely to experience withdrawal. 

Withdrawal syndrome symptoms include: 

  • Dizziness or light-headedness 
  • Vertigo 
  • Fatigue
  • Headache 
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea 
  • Tremor or visual disturbances 
  • Irregular sensations, including an “electric-shock” sensation throughout your body
  • Increased anxiety or agitation 
  • Confusion or irritability 
  • Insomnia 

Zoloft Drug Interactions

Whenever starting a new medication, it is important to disclose all of the medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements. Zoloft has a number of different drug interactions with commonly prescribed medications. 

Some common drug interactions associated with Zoloft include: 

  • Serotonin syndrome: increased risk with other medications that increase serotonin, with the most common including:
    • Recreational drugs like MDMA or ecstasy 
    • ADHD medications, such as Adderall, increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.
    • Antipsychotic medications 
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Buspar 
    • Some migraine medications, including sumatriptan, rizatriptan, tramadol 
    • Lithium 
    • St. John’s Wort
  • MAO inhibitors, including linezolid or methylene blue. These medications must be stopped 14 days before starting an SSRI  
  • Antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications: increase the risk of bleeding 
  • Specific antibiotics and antifungal medications
  • Opioids, including methadone 
  • Some anti-nausea medications, such as ondansetron or Zofran 
  • Thiazide diuretics: increase risk of hyponatremia 

What Is Celexa?

Similar to Zoloft, Celexa or Citalopram is an SSRI medication that works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Celexa is commonly prescribed for the treatment of depression by improving mood and decreasing symptoms of anxiety. 

Compared to Zoloft, Celexa has been shown to have fewer side effects and drug interactions. Although Celexa is found to be highly effective in treating anxiety and depression, it is not the best medication choice for those who have chronic heart or liver issues. 

Forms and Doses of Celexa 

Celexa is available in capsule, tablet, and oral solution forms. The tablet form is most commonly used in the adult population due to the various forms of dosing available. 

The initial starting dose of Celexa is typically 10 mg daily and can be increased in 10 mg increments on a weekly basis, as needed. The maximum dose is 40 mg per day, and in patients over 60 years of age, the maximum dose is 20 mg per day due to cardiac concerns in this population. 

Celexa is available in tablet form in the following doses: 

  • 10 mg 
  • 20 mg 
  • 40 mg 

Celexa capsules are available in 30 mg dosing only. 

Oral solution of Celexa is available in 10 mg/5 mL dosing only. 

Conditions Celexa Treats

Celexa or citalopram is commonly used in the treatment of a variety of depressive and anxiety disorders. The FDA has only formally approved the medication for MDD: major depressive disorder, but there are a number of off-label uses for this SSRI medication that are listed below.  

Symptoms of Anxiety Celexa Can Treat

There are a variety of anxiety symptoms that are treated with Celexa. Although these are all considered off-label uses, they have been found to be effective in treating the following anxiety symptoms: 

  • Improved sleep quality
  • Calm anxious or racing thoughts 
  • Reduce the anxiety or stress associated with eating disorders, including bulimia or binge eating disorder 
  • Calm thought processing and reduce urges associated with performing repetitive tasks in OCD 
  • Decrease the number or severity of panic attacks in those who have PTSD, panic disorder, or social anxiety

Symptoms of Depression Celexa Can Treat

As previously stated, Celexa is FDA approved for the treatment of depressive symptoms and can potentially improve the quality of life of the patient. 

Common symptoms of depression treated with Celexa include: 

  • Depressed mood
  • Inability to enjoy regular activities 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Changes in appetite 

Off-Label Uses For Celexa

The term “off-label” is used for any use of a medication that is not FDA approved for the medication. There are a number of “off-label” uses for Celexa, including:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Binge eating disorder 
  • Alcohol use disorder 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder 
  • Panic disorder or PTSD
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder 
  • Postmenopausal flushing 
  • Premature ejaculation 

Celexa Costs

Compared to Zoloft, Celexa is less expensive, with the average cost of a 30-day supply around $4 when using coupon codes. Celexa is typically covered by most insurance plans, and prescription coupon codes are widely available at any major pharmacy. 

Side Effects of Celexa 

As with any medication, there is a potential list of side effects associated with starting or increasing the dose of any drug. Compared to Zoloft, there tend to be fewer side effects with Celexa, although everyone reacts differently to medications. 

Some common side effects of Celexa include: 

  • Nausea or GI upset
  • Dry mouth 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Drowsiness or fatigue 
  • Increased sweating 
  • Blurred vision 

Celexa Warnings For Use

There are a few rare but serious warnings with the use of Celexa, and should be carefully considered when discussing treatment options with your healthcare provider.  

As with most SSRIs, it is important to note that there have been reported incidences of worsening depression and increased suicidal ideation. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm behaviors, contact your healthcare provider immediately or go to the nearest emergency department. 

The national suicide hotline can be reached by dialing 988 and is available 24/7.

Serotonin syndrome is an uncommon but serious condition that is caused by elevated levels of serotonin in the brain. This is most commonly seen in patients who are taking multiple medications that work by increasing serotonin. 

It is important to contact your healthcare provider or seek medical care if you begin to experience the following side effects: 

  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure 
  • High fever, resulting in increased sweating, shivering, or goosebumps 
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations 
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Loss of muscle coordination or uncontrollable muscle twitching or rigidity 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Headache 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Confusion or altered consciousness

Another important consideration with any SSRI is the potential for withdrawal syndrome. When considering discontinuing or decreasing the dose of your medication, it is important to discuss this plan with your healthcare provider so that they can guide the process and slowly titrate the medication. 

Celexa Drug Interactions

As with any medication, there are a number of associated drug interactions that may occur. Overall, there appear to be fewer drug interactions than with Zoloft, but it is still important to disclose all medications you are currently taking with your healthcare provider, including over-the-counter medications and supplements. 

Some medications that interact with Celexa include: 

  • Medications that increase the risk for serotonin syndrome:
    • Recreational drugs like MDMA or ecstasy 
    • St. John’s Wort 
    • ADHD medications, such as Adderall 
    • Antipsychotic medications 
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
    • Buspar 
    • Some migraine medications, including sumatriptan, rizatriptan, tramadol 
    • Lithium 
  • Antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications will increase the risk of bleeding
  • MAO inhibitors include linezolid, metaxalone, and methylene blue, to name a few. These medications should be discontinued two weeks prior to starting an SSRI
  • Drugs that affect heart rhythm, including amiodarone, procainamide, and sotalol 

Frequently Asked Questions About Celexa and Zoloft

With so many different medications that belong to the SSRI medication classification, learning differences between medications can be difficult to understand. Therefore, we have included some commonly asked questions about Celexa and Zoloft listed below. 

Does Zoloft Make You Gain Weight? Does Celexa?

Weight gain is a common concern for anyone starting on an SSRI medication. The simple answer is that either Zoloft or Celexa may result in a small weight gain (1-5 lbs) when starting either medication. 

If this is a major concern for you or you develop serious weight gain when starting either medication, your healthcare provider can offer alternative treatment options. 

Is Zoloft or Celexa Better for Anxiety?

Unlike Celexa, Zoloft is FDA approved for the treatment of anxiety and has been shown to be one of the most effective SSRIs for various anxiety disorders. Although, Celexa is better tolerated in some patients and has shown to be effective in treating anxiety as well. 

Can I Replace Zoloft with Celexa?

Since both medications belong to the same drug class, they can be commonly interchanged with one another under the supervision and direction of your healthcare provider. Depending on how you tolerate either medication and the side effects experienced, changing SSRIs to find the best treatment option for you is a fairly common practice. Your healthcare provider will adjust the tapering of medications and dose adjustments based on your current symptoms and side effects. 

Is Zoloft Energizing or Sedating? What About Celexa?

While comparing the two medications, Celexa tends to be more sedating, while Zoloft has been found to be more energizing. Although, everyone reacts differently to each medication.

Does Zoloft Cause Brain Fog? Does Celexa?

Brain fog is a common symptom of depression but can be a side effect associated with the use of SSRIs. When comparing the two medications, Zoloft was shown to have more side effects of reported brain fog than Celexa. 

Can I Drink Alcohol On Celexa? On Zoloft?

You should avoid drinking alcohol while taking either Celexa or Zoloft. Even drinking a small amount of these medications can cause unwanted side effects. Overall, drinking alcohol has been associated with worsening anxiety and depression. 

Can I Drink Caffeine When I’m on Celexa? How About Zoloft?

It is typically safe to consume caffeine on both Celexa and Zoloft, with no increased incidence of side effects reported. 

What Is Better For Depression—Celexa or Zoloft?

Although both medications have been found to be highly effective at treating depression, studies have shown that Celexa may provide relief of depressive symptoms more quickly than Zoloft. 

How Klarity Helps You Discover the Right Medication 

If you are living with symptoms of anxiety or depression and are unsure which medication is right for you, schedule an appointment on Klarity today. We will set you up with a healthcare provider in your state who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety and depression, with your first telehealth visit in as little as 48 hours. 

Klarity offers access to quality mental health care at your convenience. We offer affordable care at a fraction of the cost when compared to the traditional psych clinic visit. No insurance or subscriptions are required, and no hidden fees. The initial online visit with a licensed healthcare provider is only $149, with each follow-up appointment at $59/month. 

Klarity offers the care that you need whenever you need it. Take a free self-evaluation to get started.

Sources: 

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/sertraline-drug-information?search=zoloft&source=panel_search_result&selectedTitle=1~148&usage_type=panel&kp_tab=drug_general&display_rank=1

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/citalopram-drug-information?search=celexa&source=panel_search_result&selectedTitle=1~103&usage_type=panel&kp_tab=drug_general&display_rank=1#F151952

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-35/zoloft-oral/details#:~:text=Nausea%2C%20dizziness%2C%20drowsiness%2C%20dry,your%20doctor%20or%20pharmacist%20promptly.

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8603/celexa-oral/details

https://www.rxlist.com/zoloft_vs_celexa/drugs-condition.htm

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8603/celexa-oral/details

https://www.iodine.com/compare/celexa-vs-zoloft

https://www.healthcentral.com/article/coffee-tea-not-good-maintaining-antidepressants-system

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/serotonin-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354758

https://www.singlecare.com/prescription/celexa/dosage

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