Table of contents


22 min read

Lexapro vs. Celexa: What Is The Difference & Which One Should I Take?

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Nov 7, 2022

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

Table of contents

Generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder 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. 

Although these medications may be familiar to some, it is essential to fully understand both Lexapro and Celexa before taking either. In the following comparison guide, we’ll review the similarities and differences between Lexapro and Celexa so you can make an informed decision with your healthcare provider.

Klarity offers access to convenient, affordable anxiety and depression treatment from the comfort of your home. The experienced healthcare providers on our platform can help you decide which medication is best for regulating your anxiety or depression. Schedule an appointment today.

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.

Drug ClassSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Brand / Generic StatusBrand name for escitalopramBrand name for citalopram
Form(s) of the Drug• Immediate-release tablets
• Clear, peppermint-flavored liquid suspension
• Oval capsules
• Round tablets
• Clear, peppermint-flavored liquid suspension
Standard DosageImmediate-release tablets:
• 10mg per dose

Liquid suspension:
• 10mg per dose
• 30mg dose

• 10 mg
• 20 mg
• 40 mg

Liquid suspension:
• 10mg of citalopram per dose

Conditions TreatedFDA-approved uses:
• Major depressive disorder
• Generalized anxiety disorder

Off-label uses:
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Binge-eating disorder
• Bulimia nervosa
• Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD)
• Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
• Panic disorder
• Insomnia
FDA-approved uses:
• Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Off-label uses:
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Binge eating disorder
• Alcohol use disorder
• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Panic disorder or PTSD
• Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
• Postmenopausal flushing
• Premature ejaculation
CostGeneric form (escitalopram):
• $15.00 and $120.00 for a 30-day supply*

• $250.22 for a 30-day supply*

*Without insurance
• $4 for 30-day supply*

*With coupon codes or insurance
Side-EffectsCommon side effects:
• Dizziness and drowsiness
• Weakness, shakiness, or sweating
• Insomnia
• Loss of appetite or nausea
• Dry mouth
• Constipation
• Unexplained weight changes
• Decreased sex drive or impotence
• Difficulty having an orgasm

Serious side effects:
• Abdominal pain or bleeding
• Allergic reaction
• Blurred or tunnel vision
• Abnormal dreams or decreased focus
• Chest pain or irregular heartbeat
• Eye pain, swelling, or halos around lights
• Euphoria, depression, or unusual behavior
• Headache, confusion, or slurred speech
• Heartburn or vomiting
• Hot flashes
Severe weakness or dizziness
• Feeling unsteady or uncoordinated
• Sweating and tremors
• Rigid muscles
Common side effects:
• Nausea or GI upset
• Dry mouth
• Changes in appetite
• Drowsiness or fatigue
• Increased sweating
• Blurred vision

Serious side effects:
• Worsening depression
• Suicidal ideation
• Serotonin syndrome
• 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

Warnings For UseContraindicated conditions:
• Liver or kidney problems
• Heart problems
• Seizures or convulsions
• Bipolar disorder
• Low sodium levels in the blood
• High blood pressure
• History of stroke
• Bleeding problems

Drug interactions:
• Aspirin
• St. John’s Wort
• Tryptophan
• Opioid-based painkillers
• Anti-psychotics
• Alcohol
Adverse drug reactions:
• St. John's Wort
• ADHD medications, such as Adderall
• Antipsychotic medications
• Tricyclic antidepressants
• Buspar
• Some migraine medications
• Lithium
• Antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications
• Drugs that affect heart rhythm

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is among medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Like other SSRIs, Lexapro alters how the brain uses the neurotransmitter serotonin, slowing its reabsorption into the neurons to pass more messages between nerve cells. 

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

Lexapro Forms and Doses

Lexapro is available as an oral tablet or solution, but it is most commonly prescribed in its tablet form. These tablets come in 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg 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 10 mg 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 is effective at treating. Considering anxiety and depression are often comorbid conditions, it makes Lexapro a favorable choice for individuals who experience both. 

There are also some off-label uses for Lexapro. Still, treating any off-label conditions should only be done under the 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 can contribute more to an individual’s feelings of safety and contentment. 

This can have a cascading effect on individuals who experience anxiety symptoms, as reduced nervousness can contribute to fewer panic attacks, more stable thought patterns, and a generally relaxed demeanor.

Symptoms of Depression Lexapro Can Treat

Lexapro effectively treats various depression symptoms, generally contributing to a greater feeling of well-being and improved energy levels. Like most antidepressants, however, it’s important not to stop taking Lexapro unless specifically directed by your healthcare provider to avoid negative side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

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. Off-label use occurs when your healthcare provider prescribes a medication that’s proven effective in treating symptoms like yours but hasn’t been approved by the FDA for that particular treatment. 

FDA approval requires strict testing and resources that make it difficult for every use of a medication to be approved. Lexapro treats the following conditions in an off-label capacity: 

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • 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 10 mg 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. Your prescription can be less costly if you have insurance coverage for both the generic and name brand.

Lexapro Side Effects

Lexapro has several side effects you should know 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 unpredictable. Your healthcare provider can discuss these risks to determine if Lexapro is right for you.

If you experience any symptoms associated with the following most prominent warnings for use, contact your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Serotonin syndrome: This is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition where the brain has too much active serotonin. This often occurs by taking more than one medication that increases serotonin. This does not necessarily need to be another antidepressant medication,  can result in side effects such as fast heart rate, sweating, muscle stiffness or spasms, confusion, and fever. 
  • 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.
  • Withdrawal: You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Lexapro. These symptoms can include nausea, anxiety, agitation, trouble sleeping, and flu-like symptoms. 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 healthcare provider on Klarity 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

Licensed providers on Klarity provide personalized treatment. Find a provider that matches your needs and preferences.

What is Celexa?

Celexa is an SSRI medication used to treat symptoms of depression by increasing the amount of serotonin 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 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 10 mg/5 ml, while the tablet comes in doses of 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg. If you’re prescribed the capsule, it is only available in a 30 mg dose.

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

Conditions Celexa Treats

Celexa is primarily prescribed to treat depression, but because many conditions can be treated with SSRI medication, its 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 off-label treatment 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 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, you may experience a greater sense of calm and emotional stability.

Symptoms of Depression Celexa Can Treat

Celexa effectively treats an array of depression symptoms, allowing individuals to live with a greater sense of peace and well-being. Celexa can also help improve energy levels, allowing people to take on the day with a renewed mental perspective and physical vigor. 

Off-Label Uses for Celexa

Celexa has a few off-label uses that make it helpful in treating conditions aside from depression and anxiety. Celexa can be prescribed off-label to treat the following conditions:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Postmenopausal flushing 
  • 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

The cost of a Celexa prescription will vary depending on your dose and pharmacy. Celexa’s generic form, citalopram, can cost as little as $7 for 30 tablets of the 20 mg dosage. 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 be less expensive if your prescription is covered by insurance. 

Celexa Side Effects

Celexa has a few side effects, but many 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. 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. It’s important to exercise increased attentiveness to your own mental health at all times. If you have any suicidal thoughts or compulsions when taking Celexa, seek help immediately by calling 988.
  • Serotonin syndrome: Serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening if left untreated and occurs when taking two or more serotonin-affecting medications at once, drastically increasing the amount of serotonin in your system. This does not necessarily need to be another antidepressant medication. 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 you stop taking it suddenly. Never stop taking Celexa on your own and without the supervision of your 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, it’s important to understand how one medication compares to another. Celexa and Lexapro 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 your symptoms. The experienced medical professionals on Klarity will help you find the medication that will bring a greater sense of peace to your life.

How Klarity Helps You Discover the Right Medication

At Klarity, we can get you an appointment in your state within 48 hours or less. Your provider will evaluate your symptoms, needs, and goals and recommend the right medication, if applicable. 

Skip the long waitlists and inconvenient commutes to an in-person office. Get started today to get the treatment you need from the comfort of your own home. 

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 Lexapro or 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?

You are not recommended to 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 effectively treat anxiety symptoms, Lexapro is 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 is more effective at treating depression than Celexa. Celexa is still an effective option, but if your healthcare provider decides it’s best for you, it should be taken.


“Celexa.” GoodRx.

“Lexapro.” GoodRx.

Subscribe to our blog for the latest health insights and updates

Join our community of health-conscious individuals and gain access to valuable tips, expert advice, and the newest trends in healthcare.

Related posts

All professional services are provided by independent private practices via the Klarity technology platform. Klarity Health, Inc. does not provide any medical services.
(855) 975-3008

PO Box 5098 Redwood City, CA 94063

100 Broadway Street, Redwood City CA, 94063

If you’re having an emergency or in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help: Emergency: Call 911. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 988. Crisis Text Line: Text Home to 741-741
© 2024 Klarity Health, Inc. All rights reserved.