Celexa vs Lexapro: Drug Information and Differences

Celexa and Lexapro are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are a kind of antidepressants that are used for the treatment of anxiety disorder and depression. The drugs are also used off label for the treatment of panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorders. Both medications have similar side effects, such as nausea, increased sweating, dry mouth, tremor, headache, drowsiness, sexual difficulties, and sleep difficulty. There are some other adverse effects that are peculiar to Celexa and some others with Lexapro. The adverse reactions common with only Celexa include vomiting. For Lexapro, peculiar side effects include fever, restlessness and agitation, diarrhea, blurred vision, frequent urination, appetite disorder, weight changes, and taste alterations. Withdrawal reactions can also occur when the patient stops taking Celexa or Lexapro. Some of these withdrawal symptoms are dizziness, tingling sensations, vivid dreams, poor mood, tiredness, and irritability.

General Information about Celexa and Lexapro

Celexa is an antidepressant drug in the class of medications known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. These medications affect the chemicals used by the nerves in the brain to communicate with each other. These chemicals are usually referred to as neurotransmitter and Celexa functions by stopping the uptake of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters, after being released. Due to the fact that uptake is a crucial mechanism for eliminating the released neurotransmitters and stopping the actions on other nerves close by, the uptake caused by Celexa provides a freer serotonin within the brain to fuel the nerve cells. There are other SSRIs that works on serotonin in the brain among which are Paxil (Paroxetine), Prozac (Fluoxetine), and Zoloft (Sertraline).

Lexapro is an approved oral medication that is usually prescribed for the treatment of general anxiety disorder and depression. It is also used off label for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorders.

Side Effects of Celexa and Lexapro

The mild side effects of Celexa include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, excessive sweating, drowsiness, tremor, inability to sleep, and a headache. According to report, at least one in six patients experience one of these side effects when using the medication. Some patients have also reported experiencing sexual dysfunction while using the drug. There is also the case of withdrawal symptoms that have been reported by some other patients. Some withdrawal symptoms that have been reported include dizziness, vivid dreams, tingling sensations, poor mood, and irritability. It is important to mention that antidepressant medications increase the risk of suicidal behaviour and suicidal thinking. Patients who are placed on this medication should therefore be properly monitored. Any sign of unusual behaviour should be immediately brought to the attention of the medical practitioner.

There are side effects that can be experienced while using Lexapro also. The common adverse effects associated with Lexapro include blurred vision, restlessness or agitation, drowsiness, diarrhea, dry mouth, difficulty sleeping, fever, headache, frequent urination, indigestion, nausea, change in appetite, and sexual difficulties. Other side effects include weight changes, tremor, and taste alterations. There are other influenza-like effects that can be experienced while using the medication. You can also experience pain in the shoulder or neck when using the drug. Other possible adverse side effects that can be experienced while taking Lexapro include abnormal bleeding, seizure, serotonin syndrome, low sodium, suicidal behaviour or thinking, manic episodes, and glaucoma.

Dosage Information about Celexa and Lexapro

Celexa: The regular starting dosage of Celexa is 20mg once a day to be taken either in the morning or evening. Depending on response to therapy, the dosage can be increased to 40mg per day after a period of one week. It is important to know that it may take many weeks of therapy before optimal effects can be noticed. Dosages are usually adjusted slowly to find the best dose that works for a patient. A dosage of 60mg has not been indicated to be more effective than the 40mg dosage.

Lexapro: The normal starting dosage of Lexapro for the treatment of depression in adolescents and adults is 10mg to be taken once a day in the morning or evening. This can be increased to 20mg after one week of use. It might take up to four weeks before the effect of the drug can be noticed. It is important to mention that a dosage of 20mg may not really be more effective than 10mg for the treatment of depression. The regular dosage for the treatment of general anxiety disorder is 10mg per day. The medication can be taken with or without food.

Drug Interaction with Celexa and Lexapro

Celexa and Lexapro are SSRI drugs and as such should not be used with any monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) type of antidepressants. For instance, you should not use either of these medications with Marplan (Isocarboxazid), Parnate (Tranylcypromine), Nardil (Phenelzine), Matulane (Procarbazine), and Eldepryl (Selegiline). Combining either Celexa or Lexapro with any of these drugs can lead to high blood pressure, confusion, hyperactivity, and tremor. Before a change in treatment between Celexa and other MAOI can be made, there should be a period of a fourteen days' interval between usages.

Dietary supplements such as Tryptophan can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness or sweating when taken with Celexa or Lexapro. Do not use intravenous Methylene blue and Linezolid with either of the two drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, Aspirin, and other drugs that can affect bleeding should also not be used with Celexa or Lexapro because they can increase the risk of upper gastro-intestinal bleeding. Drugs that increase serotonin within the brain should also be avoided when using these two drugs. Medications such as Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid), Sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex), Tramadol (Ultram), and Meperidine (Demerol) should also not be combined with them.


Celexa has been reported to cause complications during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is therefore important to stay away from the drug when pregnant. It has also been reported that the drug may pass into breast milk. You should therefore not take Celexa if you are nursing a baby. There is not much evidence to show the danger of using Lexapro during pregnancy or nursing. However, for safety reasons, it is recommended that you don't take the drug if pregnant or nursing a baby.